Predicting Wildfires with Artificial Intelligence: How Scientists are Leveraging AI

Forecasting fire weather isn’t simple — there are many diverse types of difficulties that forecasters encounter both before a wildfire begins and even while it’s active. These fires can ignite at any time and any place. Many different factors must be considered before estimating how rapidly one can spread and how profoundly it may impact our lives and our communities.

“The biggest challenges involve forecasting in complex terrain, a ‘fuels assessment,’ and communicating the message of risk,” Heath Hockenberry, National Fire Weather Program Manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s National Weather Service, stated last week. “Complex terrain includes steep slopes, intersecting valleys and other geographic factors that cause small-scale changes in weather. Meteorologists still have to interpret and improve the highly complex weather models to make them actually work when the mountains and valleys change the winds and rainfall.”

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