Improving wildfire predictions with soil science

By Eric Hamilton, American Society of Agronomy
February 7, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

Severe wildfires have become annual events in the United States. …Climate change is making wildfires more likely in some places. And with heavy populations residing in areas bordering wildlands and forests, many people are more likely to experience serious wildfires. Tyson Ochsner, professor of plant and soil sciences at Oklahoma State University studies how to apply soil science to other fields. Ochsner and his colleague Erik Krueger have partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to research how soil science can improve wildfire predictions. …most experts rely on weather data to predict wildfires. … But Ochsner’s group has revealed that soil data can make these predictions better. Unfortunately, soil data is much harder to come by. Zack Holden and his team at the Forest Service developed a computer model to extend the data that exists to new areas. Called TOPOFIRE, it shows potential to improve soil moisture predictions across the country, including in hillier regions.

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