Scientists Look to Big Data to Address Local Fire Problems


Burned trees with houses in the backgroundThe case of the Bastrop County Complex illustrates the need for a new way of thinking about the issue of wildfire. In September of 2011, a year of severe drought, a summer of record-breaking heat, winds from a tropical storm, and a few sparks combined to create the fire, which burned through 34,000 acres of southeastern Texas, claiming two lives and nearly 1,700 homes and leaving property damage totaling $325 million. Four years later, the memory still fresh in the minds of community members, 575 fire scientists and managers from around the world met nearby in San Antonio during the Association for Fire Ecology’s (AFE) Sixth International Congress — an important knowledge sharing event around the role of fire in land management that only happens once every two or three years. Among the attendees were scientists from the Eastern Threat Center and partners from Oak Ridge National Laboratory who presented a large body of research during a special session focused on leveraging big data to gain insights toward better solutions for living with fire. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: In Bastrop State Park, snags, surviving pines, aggressively resprouting holly, and clumped pine regeneration are seen four years after the Bastrop County Complex fire with developed areas in the background. Photo by Steve Norman, U.S. Forest Service.


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