Wildfire is a Joint Venture Enterprise: Researchers, forecasters, and fire managers working together to improve public and wildland firefighter safety
On Wednesday, April 11th, the NOAA RISA program and National Weather Service hosted a webinar to showcase how the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP, a NOAA RISA team) with additional funding from NIDIS, SARP, and the Joint Fire Sciences Program is working collaboratively with the National Weather Service and fire management practitioners to better understand and improve the flow of information between Incident Meteorologists and firefighters and the role that trusted relationships play in translating research findings to operational end users.
In 2017 alone, nearly 9,000 wildfires in California burned an area the size of Delaware, including 10,800 structures, and killed at least 46 people. Wildfires in northern California alone caused approximately $11.8 billion in damage, and lingering smoke posed air quality risks to public and firefighter health.
Wildland management, including wildfire fighting and prescribed burning, requires collaboration and the trusted flow of information among the research community (both physical and social science), NOAA research and NWS, and fire management agencies representing Federal, State, Local and Tribal jurisdictions.
The need for accurate and trusted information and the value of networks for information transfer and feedback was abundantly clear during Wednesday’s webinar on CNAPs research regarding spot weather forecasts, hyper-local weather forecasts that fire managers use to make go/no-go decisions about prescribed burns and wildfires. In addition to the need for spot forecasts to be physically accurate, in-depth interviews conducted by Dr. Tamara Wall illuminated the importance of trusted relationships and mutual awareness of working conditions for incident meteorologists, who deliver spot forecasts, and fire managers, who make critical decisions based upon them.
Dr. Tamara Wall is Co-Principal Investigator of the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP) RISA and Deputy Director of the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC); and a researcher in the program for Climate, Ecosystem, and Fire Applications (CEFA). She is involved in several ongoing and planned projects related to integrating social science research into the production of climate knowledge and services at CNAP and the WRCC.
Dr. Nick Nauslar is a Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) Research Scientist at the NOAA/NWS/NCEP Storm Prediction Center. There he conducts research in applied meteorology and climatology with an emphasis on wildland fire and thunderstorms. His research focuses on providing improved decision support information and tools for the weather and wildland fire communities.
Alex Hoon is an Incident Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno, NV. His passion is fire weather, the impact of weather events in causing extreme fire behavior, and providing on-site decision support to fire leadership and personnel. Alex has been an Incident Meteorologist for 8 years, deploying to numerous large notable wildfires across the Western States, including the 2011 Wallow Fire in Arizona (largest wildfire in Arizona history), the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, and most recently the 2017 Lilac Fire in San Diego County.