B.C. researchers working to improve wildfire prediction

By Cindy White
The Castanet in Business in Vancouver
October 25, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Predicting wildfires is a hot topic in the wake of this summer’s destructive season and UBC Okanagan researchers are at the forefront. For example, John Braun, a professor with the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, suggests that today’s wildfire modelling technology could have helped reduce the impact of Canada’s most costly natural disaster, the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. He found that officials used a deterministic model to estimate that flames could reach Fort McMurray city limits by 11 p.m. on May 3, 2016, shifting resources too late to prevent the fire from forcing 88,000 people to flee for their lives and destroying 2,400 homes. …His research focuses on fire spread models and stochastic model that consider uncertainty, as opposed to deterministic models that only offer one likely conclusion. He argues that satellite data, drones and heightened consideration of topography can significantly improve fire models and help determine fire spread rates.

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