Wildfire Smoke Patterns to Be Analyzed by University of Maryland Researchers

BALTIMORE, Nov. 19 (UPI) — Researchers at the University of Maryland say they will use a cluster of IBM computers to analyze wildfire smoke patterns to provide real-time assessments.

The scientists said the goal of the project is to provide fire and public safety officials with a real-time assessment of a wildfire, allowing them to make more informed decisions on public evacuations and health warnings.


IBM officials said current analysis of smoke patterns is limited to weather forecasting data that’s updated every six hours, observations from front-line workers and low resolution satellite imagery. The new research uses a cluster of IBM computers to instantly process the massive amounts of data available from drone aircraft, high-resolution satellite imagery and air-quality sensors. That, IBM said, will not only help firefighters control the blaze more efficiently, but also to deliver more informed decisions on public evacuations and health warnings.

During the past year, the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center said there have been more than 76,000 individual wildfires across the nation, consuming approximate 5.8 million acres. The agency says wildfires are expected to increase, due to drier conditions produced by climate change and population growth.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International


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