US: Scientists at the University of Maryland have partnered with the National Center of Atmospheric Research to develop a computer model that predicts patterns of wildfire growth and continually updates its forecasts throughout the duration of a fire. The modeling technique combines satellite imagery of the Earth with a simulation of the extent and direction of a wildfire’s movement, based on weather and typical fire behavior. The map updates every 12 hours and can provide information on how fires, both large and small, will spread over time.
“By using relatively new polar-orbiting technology called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, Schroeder decreased the pixel width of the satellite burn severity data from 1,000 meters of land to just 375 meters — a 10-fold increase in spatial information. The great thing about these sensors is that we’re able to now see forest fires and smaller fires. We can look at these smaller fires before they become major events, and we can supply information on how best to attack them,” said Wilfrid Schroeder, scientist on the project.