Magazine article The Futurist

Fight Fire with Film Forecast

Magazine article The Futurist

Fight Fire with Film Forecast

Article excerpt

Remote-sensing technologies will make extinguishing wildfires quicker and easier. Data from sensors will translate into computer animation to better visualize predicted fire behavior. Researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) predict that future fire fighters will be able to manage wildfires electronically.

The research is twofold: to collect real-time data using airborne and ground-based sensors and to use computer animation to visualize paths a fire might follow. In between these steps is a unique model, created by Janice Coen at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, that forms the core of the project. Information is fed into the model and combined with weather data from the U.S. Forest Service. The model outputs a three-dimensional movie about the fire that is sophisticated enough to predict dangerous fire behaviors, such as leaping flames.

"Coen's model can track smoke and hot gases in the atmosphere," says Anthony Vodacek, who heads RIT's Forest Fire Imaging Experimental System. …

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