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Fighting Fires With Weather Models

Via New Technology Enables Wildfire Forecasting Firefighters better predict wildfire behavior see Use of spatially refined satellite remote sensing fire detection data to initialize and evaluate coupled weather-wildfire growth model simulation. Janice L. Coen and Wilfrid Schroeder. Article first published online: 22 OCT 2013.  DOI: 10.1002/2013GL057868 [full-text - no fee]

“Large wildfires may grow for weeks or months from ignition until extinction. Simulating events with coupled numerical weather prediction (NWP)–wildland fire models is a challenge because NWP model errors grow with time. A new simulation paradigm was tested. Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment model simulations of the 2012 Little Bear Fire in New Mexico were implemented for multiple days of fire growth from ignition and then used spatially refined (375 m) 12 h satellite active fire data derived from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) to initialize a fire in progress. The simulations represented fire growth well for 12–24 h after each initialization in comparison to later satellite passes but strayed from mapped area with time. A cycling approach, in which successive VIIRS perimeters were used to initialize fire location for the next 12 h period, overcame this and can be used with cycled weather forecasts to predict even a long-lived fire’s lifecycle.”

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