Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

The American West is heading into the dry season, but AI could help firefighters predict where fires are likely to break out for a less devastating fire season. A new deep-learning model maps out landscape dryness and the amount of burnable material across 12 states to get ahead of destructive wildfires. 

Developed by researchers at Stanford University, the technology covers the area from Colorado, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming to the Pacific Coast. Previously, climate scientists assessed potential fire risk by taking samples from a small number of trees in a given area. This information was then added to the National Fuel Moisture Database to create a correlation between moisture levels and fire risk in a region. Now, the AI tool shows moisture level progression in a given area over several years and establishes a firmer correlation between weather and live fuel moisture. 

The tool uses a recurrent neural network to identify patterns in large data sets. Researchers used the National Fuel Moisture Database in addition to synthetic aperture radar and imaging of visible light bouncing off Earth to create the model. With the help of precise satellites, the team could capture accurate moisture data over vast areas. They also accounted for different ecosystem types and varieties of plant species. For example, Southern California fires primarily burn chaparral and are fueled by Santa Ana winds. The tool takes all these environmental factors into consideration. 

The result is an interactive map that fire agencies will eventually be able to use to more accurately plan prescribed burns and also foresee high-risk fire areas. With climate change exacerbating fire weather in the western US, tools like this are critical for getting ahead of destructive blazes and saving lives.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Online mushroom hotline puts the power of crowdsourcing in poison control

Ninety nine percent of mushrooms are non-toxic, but the one percent which are can have fatal consequences if accidentally ingested. For people with pets or young children, a seemingly harmless patch of fungi in the ... Read More

30 White rhinos make record journey to Akagera national park

White rhinos are classified as near threatened, with numbers dropping due to poaching. In a bid to improve the outlook for the species, 30 of these giant animals recently made the journey from South Africa ... Read More

This cutting edge camera is the size of a grain of salt

Micro-cameras are used in virtually all industries. In the medical field, these tiny cameras have helped facilitate less invasive medical imaging practices and improved robotic surgical tools. Structures of molecules and neural pathways have been ... Read More

Research shows gestures take the guesswork out of learning a new language

It’s common knowledge that picking up a new language is easier as a child, while your brain is still flexible—but learning a foreign tongue as an adult is another story. Well, according to new research, ... Read More

This impact-absorbing technology will save lives (and traffic poles)

Crashing a vehicle is already a traumatizing and possibly fatal accident, but if the object that the vehicle collides into is a rigid street light pole that snaps off its base due to the impact, ... Read More

New York City opens the country’s first safe injection site

Harm reduction strategies are gaining traction as a more effective way to quell the ever-growing opioid crisis. These strategies, like making clean needle exchanges available and decriminalizing drug possession, understand that criminalization alone will not ... Read More