Tue, September 28, 2021


You need to sign in to add a comment

Sign In

Not an OR Society Member

Find out the benefits of being a member

Become a member

Using data science to improve wildfire forecasting and modelling

The University of California San Diego has announced a joint appointment with Los Alamos National Laboratory with the appointment of a senior data scientist to model problems involving complex thermal, mechanical and fluid dynamics systems, including wildfire behaviour.

“Partnerships and collaborations with multiple research organizations reap widespread benefits,” says UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “In bringing together data science and thermal expertise, we will develop better wildfire forecasting and modelling. Discoveries made together will help mitigate the catastrophic impacts of severe wildfires that increasingly threaten communities across the globe.”

The partnership brings together the university’s Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI) together with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).  The SDSC previously developed WIFIRE, a cyberinfrastructure platform that integrates data systems to help monitor, predict and mitigate wildfires. The platform has been used to support decision-makers with real-time data models of wildfires. The new collaboration aims to improve this capability and become more proactive in managing fires, such as prescribing controlled burns of areas prone to wildfires.

These prescribed ‘burns’ can be highly effective in managing wildfires because they reduce hazardous fuel loads near developed areas, manage landscapes and restore natural woodlands, yet their use has diminished, resulting in an overabundance dead vegetation which provides fuel for wildfires. How to remove this risk potential is where this project will have additional impact via data integration and analysis and computer modelling of everything from staff management, resource allocation, weather and other local factors.

“Our expectation is that by helping decision-makers and prescribed-fire managers decide when, where and how to burn safely and effectively today, we can reduce the chance of catastrophic fire tomorrow,” said Rod Linn, appointed to the project.

The university’s Vice Chancellor for Research Dr Sandra Brown said, “Bringing together the brightest minds from UC San Diego and our national labs has the potential to more effectively address complex global challenges and speed discovery and innovation that can change lives around the world for the better.”

Full story at the UC San Diego News Centre.