Los Alamos National Laboratory part of team working to help wildfire management


LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – The Los Alamos National Laboratory is part of a team working to combat wildfires. They’re developing a tool, called QUIC-Fire, to help make prescribed burns more efficient, which can help prevent more serious wildfires down the line.

“By helping decision-makers and prescribed fire managers decide when, where, and how to, to burn safely and effectively, we expect or hope that we’re allowing them to more efficiently put fire on the landscape in a good way and thus reduce the chance of catastrophic fire on the landscape at a later time,” said Rod Linn, Senior Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of the lead developers of QUIC-Fire. “A lot of times you’ll hear people refer to prescribed fire or low-intensity fire as good fire and there’s a growing feeling amongst the fire community that we need more good fire and less bad fire.”

The QUIC-Fire software’s 3D modeling couples the atmosphere, like winds and vegetation structure, with fire and can show what may be the best way to start a prescribed burn to influence fire behavior and even where the smoke disperses. While it offers close to real-time modeling, Linn said the goal is for practitioners to use it before a burn to plan what may lead to the most desired result.

“Prescribed fire practitioners have lots of choices that they, that they make all the time when they’re trying to pull off prescribed fires. This includes where they’re going to burn, and when they’re going to burn it, and how they’re going to burn it,” said Linn. Unlike past systems which required a lot of technology, QUIC-Fire is more accessible to those who would need it since it can run on a laptop.

“We started to understand that as time went along, computers got faster…Instead of getting closer to having it in everybody’s hands, what we were doing was adding more detail and creating better tools but they still were always going to be research tools,” said Linn. “It’s really exciting to be able to shift gears and take what we’ve learned out of two decades of fire modeling research and being able to package it in a way that can be used to support prescribed fire.”

Linn said prescribed burns are especially challenging on the west coast due to its complex topography and hope this tool could lead to more and safer prescribed burns there. No word yet on when the tool will be more widely available to those who would use it but Linn said they are now working on integrating QUIC-Fire with other systems and making it more usable like working on the interface.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is working on QUIC-Fire in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and Tall Timbers Research Station along with some other California Partners. For more information, visit lanl.gov/discover/science-briefs/2020/December/1215-quic-fire.php?source=newsroom-2020-tiles.

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