Forecasting wildfire behaviour with WIFIRE

A map showing locations that experienced wildfires greater than 250 acres, from
A map showing locations in the USA that experienced wildfires greater than 250 acres, from 1980 to 2003.
Credits: US Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, USGS

A new instrument to fight the exponential increase of wildfires, WIFIRE, is currently being prepared in California, USA.

The team, composed of scientists, engineers, technologists, firefighters and government and industry professionals, aims to build an end-to-end cyberinfrastructure for simulation, prediction and visualization of wildfire behavior.  WIFIRE integrates heterogeneous satellite information and remote sensor data by computational techniques, in order to monitor weather patterns and predict the spread of a wildfire.

The project began in October 2013, funded by University of California at San Diego and in partnership with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology’s Qualcomm Institute and the University of Maryland.

Ilkay Altintas, principal investigator of WIFIRE, said integration of the data into fire image data and models will lead to better situational awareness, response and decision-making at the state, local and federal levels. “WIFIRE will be scalable to users with different skill levels using specialized Web interfaces and user-specific alerts for environmental events broadcast to receivers before, during and after a wildfire.” The project allowed to obtain threshold alerts within seconds and provided knowledge that will be transferable to other regions, both nationally and globally.