$1.5 million grant will improve wildfire spotting from the air and space

  • Source: University of California, Berkeley
  • Published: 07/21/2021 10:28 AM

California’s fire season is in full swing and could well be worse than in 2020, but new tools are on the way to help responders more rapidly locate wildfires once they break out and, ideally, quickly extinguish them before they get out of control. With the help of a $1.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a University of California, Berkeley, physicist and a firefighter-turned-scientist plan to outfit spotter planes with improved infrared detectors to learn more about how fires spread. And within four years, they hope to send similar systems into space for 24/7 fire discovery and monitoring. Real-time airborne infrared data, combined with machine learning algorithms that can map hot spots in thermal images within milliseconds, will help them create “fire behavior” maps for firefighters within 20 minutes of an outbreak.


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