Welcome to the Physical Ecology Group at the University of Lincoln
Although organisms obey the same physical laws as inanimate objects the evolutionary implications of these laws are often neglected. Physical factors influence the fitness value of traits and play an important role in the course of evolution. These are the areas of investigation that interest us.
Just a few years ago, fire tornadoes were almost fabled because they were so rarely captured on video. Now, with worsening wildfire seasons and cell phone cameras everywhere, there are new videos all the time. This video captures a fire tornado that sets off a water spout as it reaches the river (~1:15 in).
Neither the fire tornado or the water spout is truly tornadic; instead they are more like dust devils. They are driven by the rising heat of the fire. As cooler, ambient air flows inward to replace the rising air, it brings with it any vorticity it had. And, like an ice skater, the incoming air spins faster as it moves inward. This sets up both the fire tornado and the water spout’s vortices.