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Forest Fires: An Example of Self-Organized Critical Behavior

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Science  18 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5384, pp. 1840-1842
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1840

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Abstract

Despite the many complexities concerning their initiation and propagation, forest fires exhibit power-law frequency-area statistics over many orders of magnitude. A simple forest fire model, which is an example of self-organized criticality, exhibits similar behavior. One practical implication of this result is that the frequency-area distribution of small and medium fires can be used to quantify the risk of large fires, as is routinely done for earthquakes.

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