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  • Dan Powers

CIRES' First-of-its-kind Experiment Illuminates Wildfires in Unprecedented Detail (video)

First results have been published from 2022’s California Fire Dynamics Experiment (CalFiDE), a NOAA- and CIRES-led campaign to capture coordinated wildfire observations in real time. The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) was established in 1967 to facilitate collaboration between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


The new study shows it’s possible to collect measurements of fire and smoke chemistry, weather conditions, and smoke plume dynamics in real time around an active wildfire. The preliminary results are also shedding light on how pollutants like ozone are made and dispersed in a wildfire plume.


CalFiDE results could ultimately provide better forecasts for first responders on the ground who need to make quick decisions about firefighting strategy and evacuations, according to the researchers.


“We're able to learn a lot from this campaign because a lot of these observations have never been made,” said Brian Carroll, a CIRES scientist working in NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory who led the new study detailing CalFiDE’s first results. “Especially the structure of an updraft of a fire, how that's coupling to the intensity at the surface, and then linking that to some of the chemistry and air quality downwind.”


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