When wildfires multiply and grow quickly, endangering lives and property as they rage through forests and grasslands, they stretch fire and rescue resources to their limits. As fires increase in size and intensity, their power to modify local weather conditions increases as well. Running coupled fire-atmosphere models on Cheyenne is allowing researchers not only to study how fires create their own weather but also to forecast such events to inform firefighters about potential changes in weather conditions and smoke pollution induced by raging fires.
A team of scientists from several universities – including the University of Colorado Denver, San Jose State University, and the University of Utah – has been doing just that during this year’s damaging fires that have raged in California and Colorado. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation Prediction of and Resilience against Extreme Events (PREEVENTS) program, the NASA Earth Science Disasters Program, and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE).