BOULDER--Frontline fire fighting could soon go high tech. In the not so distant future, analysts using supercomputers may be able to send real-time maps and predictions of a wildfire's next moves to wildfire incident management teams hundreds of miles away. That crucial information could be passed on to Palm Pilots and other wireless devices in the hands of frontline firefighters deciding how best to battle the blaze.
With millions of dollars in property lost and millions of acres in the American West burned by devastating wildfires in recent years, researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Kentucky, Texas A&M University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are working together to develop state-of-the-art information technology tools and apply them to wildland fire.
This team has been awarded $2 million to develop an advanced, computer-generated, dynamic, data-driven system that will predict wildfire behavior and progression. The four-year project, funded by the National Science Foundation, will use the most recent advances in computer speed and power, high-speed information networks, satellite and sensor monitoring, mathematical theory, and meteorology to develop tools to warn firefighters about where a fire may go and sudden changes that might occur, such as wind changes or extreme fire behavior.
Called the Data Dynamic Simulation for Disaster Management, the effort is part of NSF's Information Technology Research Program. The team is headed by CU-Denver mathematics professor Jan Mandel, who will work with a coupled weather and wildfire computer model developed at NCAR to build a software system that will use data from the fire scene to determine wildfire-spread scenarios and probabilities.
The grant will allow the team to create a system where multiple sensors placed around a wildfire will continuously send input such as temperature,
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research