May 14, 2014 8:31 PM by Bill Folsom

Colorado scientists predict wildfire behavior with high tech modeling

Technology could soon give fire bosses an edge in the fight against wildfires. Computer modeling 20 years in the making that models and predicts fire behavior is on the verge of going to the fire line.

Scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric research in Boulder are helping make it happen. The modeling program combines dozens of factors contributing to wildfire like: weather, topography, and types of fire fuels. The information all factor into a larger fire behavior equation. "It talks to a fire model that also creates its own heat and humidity and smoke and when the fire is burning it actually effects the fire," said Research Application Laboratory, Deputy Director, William Mahoney, "So this is a fully coupled system just like Mother Nature.

The intent of the program is showing where a wildfire will likely burn, long before it burns. It would give the people in charge of fighting fires information to develop better firefighting strategies. "Make a much better decision about where to send the assets to protect life and property."

"How do we get it," is the reaction of many elected leaders and firefighting bosses who have previewed the program. Developers are currently trying to secure final funding to get the program field ready. Once they have the budget it could be ready in a couple of years.



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