Using modeling and satellites to predict and fight fires | Alberta fires 2023

Using modeling and satellites to predict and fight fires | Alberta Fires 2023

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Wildfire specialists use mathematical models to predict fire activity and better understand how to fight them.

As fires continue to burn in Alberta, firefighting experts firefighters use modeling and satellites to aid firefighting.

Mathematical models are thus used to predict the activity of fires and better understand how to fight them. The technique allows experts to create a three-dimensional model of existing or historic fires to determine where fires will continue to burn, how dangerous they are, and how certain weather conditions might affect them.

We have fire behavior experts constantly working with a variety of tools at their disposal, including modeling and the condition of combustibles in various parts of the province, says unit lead Christie Tucker. information sheet from Alberta Wildfire.

This approach gives insight into how best to fight out-of-control fires and helps front-line firefighters better predict movement fire and smoke.

However, this is not a foolproof practice, as Christie Tucker points out. There are always things that cannot be predicted exactly. When things are moving very quickly, when there are gusts, it's less predictable.

Professor of computer engineering at Carleton University, Gabriel Wainer focuses on creating mathematical equations to simulate wildfire activity.

He explains that this technology has made major advances over the decades, allowing firefighters to better understand and respond to fires.

Models, simulations, artificial intelligence, geographic information systems, visualization, real-time data, satellite information, not to mention experts in the field: we currently have many tools to try to solve this problem, notes Gabriel Wainer.

Satellites can provide information on things like the radiative power of fires, a measure of how much energy a fire gives off. This allows fire officials to know where the hot spots are as well as where the fire is most likely to grow and how fast.

S&# x27;there is, for example, more wind and the fuel is no longer grass, but rather pines or redwoods [trees], no need to burn anything. You just have to change the mathematical model to know what will happen, says Gabriel Wainer.

Over the past decade, the number of Earth observation satellites increased dramatically, thanks to cheaper technology and the arrival of private industry.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that is dedicated to the defense of science, there were 192 such satellites in 2014. Today there are 971.

With information by Katarina Szulc