UBC team develops system to predict human-caused wildfires

Researchers tracked when forests went green to predict the most risky time for fires

A team of UBC forestry researchers say they have come up with a way to predict when human-caused wildfires are most likely to occur in the spring.

The team, lead by postdoctoral fellow Paul Pickell, used satellite images to track when forests begin to go green in the spring, and used the data to predict the risk of human-caused wildfires.

READ: After 70 days, B.C. state of emergency to end

Going back to the year 2000, they saw that their system was accurate to within 10 days by the end of March, including last year’s catastrophic fire in Fort McMurray.

“We found that the conditions were just right in the spring of 2016 to allow the Fort McMurray fire to spread rapidly to the surrounding leafless vegetation,” Pickell said in a news release Monday.

“This could be a really cost-effective tool for wildfire managers to help them determine where they should deploy their firefighting resources, and the early warning may be available for most forests before the start of the fire season.”

The research, published in Scientific Reports, says the “spring burning window” – which occurs between snow melting and when plants sprout new greenery – is the riskiest time for human-caused wildfires in B.C. and Alberta.

As people delve further and further into the forests, the report says, the chances that they will cause fires increase, as do the chances of those fires damaging communities.

VIDEO: Young parents’ dream turns to nightmare in wildfire

About 40 per cent of wildfires in B.C. have been caused by people over the past 10 years.

This year, nearly 50,000 people were evacuated from their homes as more than 1,200 fires burned up more than one million hectares of forests around the province.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 in Chilliwack trying to flee police

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Drugs and guns seized by Chilliwack Mounties in complex case

Drug trafficking investigations led to five arrests in three different locations across Chilliwack

Chilliwack RCMP trying to catch robbery suspect

Police hope someone will identify the person who appears in security camera footage

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Chilliwack churns out new generation of wildfire fighters

School district partners with B.C. Wildfire Service to prep Grade 12s for careers

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read