Monday, June 21 2021
PhD Thesis Presentation
Assimilation of Satellite Active Fires Data

Wildland fires pose an increasingly serious problem in our society. The number and severity of these fires has been rising for many years. Wildfires pose direct threats to life and property as well as indirect threats through ancillary effects like reduced air quality due to smoke. The aim of this thesis is to develop techniques to help combat the negative impacts of wildfires by improving wildfire modeling capabilities by using satellite fire observations. Already much work has been done in this direction by researchers in the wildfire community. Our work seeks to expand the body of knowledge using mathematically sound methods to utilize information about wildfires that considers the uncertainties inherent in the satellite data.

In this thesis, we explore methods for using satellite observations to help initialize and steer wildfire simulations. In particular, we develop a method for constructing the history of a fire, a new technique for assimilating wildfire data, and a method for modifying the behavior of a modeled fire by inferring information about the fuels in the fire domain. All three of these goals rely on being able to estimate the time a fire first arrived at every location in a geographic region of interest. Because detailed knowledge of the histories of real wildfire is typically unavailable, the basic procedure for developing and testing the methods in this paper will be to first work with simulated data so that the estimates produced can be compared with known solutions. The methods thus developed are then applied to several real-world scenarios. Analysis of these scenarios shows that the work with constructing the history of fires and data assimilation improves fire modeling capabilities. This research provides a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of using satellite data to inform wildfire models and it points the way towards possible new avenues for modeling fire behavior.
Speaker:James Haley
Location:See email for Zoom link

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