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Understand the links between weather and wildfire

Weather data is a crucial input into fire models. However, the factors that converge to cause a particular wildfire to grow rapidly can be difficult to discern, especially when fire growth depends not on large-scale, regional conditions but on small-scale, hyper-local factors. Our knowledge of these factors has been limited by insufficient historical analysis of the associations between large wildfires and atmospheric conditions, as well as by deficiencies in our collection of weather data. Without this information, accurately predicting fire weather can be very difficult. 

The Pyregence Extreme Weather Team is working to fill these gaps. 

Provide groundbreaking insights into the impact of extreme weather on wildfire

To ensure that wildfire models have the right data inputs, our scientists are developing a methodology that identifies blindspots in our network of weather stations, and providing a plan to pinpoint where additional stations are needed. 

In addition, our scientists have tested the benefits of an upper-air profiler—a device that measures winds above ground level—and determined that this technology could provide advance warning of the strong surface winds that can drive fast-spreading fires. 

Pyregence scientists are also running simulations to identify locations that are particularly vulnerable to dangerous fire weather conditions.

Finally, we’re analyzing historical wildfires to identify the weather conditions—including hyper-local factors—associated with large fires over the past two decades. 

Benefits

We aim to give utility companies and public safety agencies the data they need to make life-saving decisions.

As a result of the work done by the Pyregence Extreme Weather Team, fire forecasting models will become more accurate.

With our recommendations on how to optimize the collection of weather data, we’re helping to ensure that hyper-local conditions are accounted for in models. Additionally, we’re the first to deliver research that shows how upper-air profilers can predict the onset of winds at ground level hours in advance, giving officials time to take critical mitigation measures. And with a firm understanding of weather conditions associated with past wildfires, we will make it easier to forecast the dangerous fires of the future.

Goals of the Extreme Weather Team

OPTIMIZE WEATHER STATION LOCATIONS

We’re helping utility companies identify blindspots in their network of weather observation stations and optimize the location of new stations.

PILOT UPPER-AIR PROFILER

By conducting tests of a sodar system, we determined that measuring winds in the upper atmosphere can help predict the onset of strong winds at ground level.

ANALYZE HISTORICAL FIRES

We analyzed the types of extreme weather associated with major fires in eight distinct regions across California.

CONDUCT WILDFIRE SIMULATIONS

We’re using weather modeling to identify locations where combinations of factors produce extreme winds that can drive fast-spreading fires.

HIGH-IMPACT PRODUCTS

Map Extreme Fire Weather

LIVE
Historical Analysis Map

Map shows locations of California’s eight fire regions and the extreme weather types associated with each

COMING NOVEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Research Paper

“The Character and Changing Frequency of Extreme California Fire Weather” presents research into extreme weather types associated with large fires across California

COMING NOVEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Data

Dataset contains source code as well as inputs and outputs of research into weather associated with major fires in the past

COMING JANUARY 2022
Historical Analysis Report

Report summarizes the findings from the historical weather analysis, including the factors influencing major wind-driven and plume-driven fires in California

LIVE
Historical Analysis Map

Map shows locations of California’s eight fire regions and the extreme weather types associated with each

COMING SEPTEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Research Paper

“The Character and Changing Frequency of Extreme California Fire Weather” presents research into extreme weather types associated with historically large fires across California

COMING SEPTEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Data

Dataset contains source code as well as inputs and outputs of research into weather associated with major fires in the past

COMING JANUARY 2022
Historical Analysis Report

Report summarizes the findings from the historical weather analysis, including the factors influencing major wind-driven and plume-driven fires in California

LIVE
Historical Analysis Map

Map shows locations of California’s eight fire regions and the extreme weather types associated with each

COMING SEPTEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Research Paper

“The Character and Changing Frequency of Extreme California Fire Weather” presents research into extreme weather types associated with historically large fires across California

COMING SEPTEMBER 2021
Historical Analysis Data

Dataset contains source code as well as inputs and outputs of research into weather associated with major fires in the past

COMING JANUARY 2022
Historical Analysis Report

Report summarizes the findings from the historical weather analysis, including the factors influencing major wind-driven and plume-driven fires in California

Optimize Weather Station Locations

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Maps

Maps show where adding new weather stations would improve fire weather awareness

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Code

Code used to identify areas where new weather stations may be needed

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Data

Datasets (on weather, fuels, topography, and more)  used for optimization analysis

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Report

Report will make recommendations for improving the weather station network, and evaluate costs of new installations

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Application

Web tool allows users to customize weather station optimization analysis to their areas of interest

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Maps

Maps show where adding new weather stations would improve fire weather awareness

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Code

Code used to identify areas where new weather stations may be needed

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Data

Datasets (on weather, fuels, topography, and more)  used for optimization analysis

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Report

Report will make recommendations for improving the weather station network, and evaluate costs of new installations

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Application

Web tool allows users to customize weather station optimization analysis to their areas of interest

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Maps

Maps show where adding new weather stations would improve fire weather awareness

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Code

Code used to identify areas where new weather stations may be needed

COMING OCTOBER 2021
Weather Station Optimization Data

Datasets (on weather, fuels, topography, and more)  used for optimization analysis

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Report

Report will make recommendations for improving the weather station network, and evaluate costs of new installations

COMING JANUARY 2022
Weather Station Optimization Application

Web tool allows users to customize weather station optimization analysis to their areas of interest

Implement Upper-Air Profiler

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Data

An early version of data collected as part of the pilot test is now available

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Report

Report offers guidance to electric utilities on deploying profiler networks and using the data to improve fire weather forecasts

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Data

An early version of data collected as part of the pilot test is now available

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Report

Report offers guidance to electric utilities on deploying profiler networks and using the data to improve fire weather forecasts

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Data

An early version of data collected as part of the pilot test is now available

LIVE
Upper-Air Profiler
Report

Report offers guidance to electric utilities on deploying profiler networks and using the data to improve fire weather forecasts

Conduct Wildfire Simulations

LIVE
CAWFE Simulations

Wildfire visualizations/animations show simulations of selected California fires

LIVE
CAWFE Simulations
Wildfire visualizations/animations will show simulations for selected fires in California

THE EXTREME WEATHER TEAM

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David Saah, PhD

position

Co-founder and Managing Principal, Spatial Informatics Group; Professor and Director of Geospatial Analysis Lab, University of San Francisco David is the Principal Investigator for Pyregence, responsible for oversight of technical aspects of the project. Broadly trained as an environmental scientist, David is recognized as a global leader in geospatial analysis, remote sensing, wildfire science, and natural hazard modeling. He has authored dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports, and is dedicated to the broad dissemination of his research through presentations, publications, and workshops. David uses integrated geospatial science for multiscale landscape mapping, monitoring, and modeling. He has played a central role in the advancement of land monitoring and remote sensing projects with global reach, including SERVIR—a joint project of NASA and USAID that helps developing countries use remote sensing data—and Collect Earth Online, an open-source platform for interpreting satellite imagery. David holds a doctorate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley.

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