From: University of British Columbia
Published November 6, 2017 08:12 AM

New wildfire early warning system could prevent spring blazes

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a new early warning system to predict when and where human-caused wildfires are most likely to occur in the spring.

Using satellite images of vegetation, the researchers can forecast where wildfire risk peaks in boreal forests by tracking moisture in fuel sources like leaves.

“Moisture is a critical factor in human-caused fires,” said Paul Pickell, a postdoctoral fellow in the faculty of forestry at UBC. “By tracking greening vegetation, which is a reliable proxy for moisture content, we can predict the risk of a human-caused wildfire with 10-day accuracy by the end of March.”

The spring burning window—between snow melting and plants sprouting new greenery—is the riskiest time for human-caused wildfires in northern boreal forests as found in Alberta and British Columbia. It is also the most dangerous time of the year for loss of property and infrastructure.

 

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Photo via University of British Columbia.

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