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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hardy Bay Seniors’ Centre doubling down to build community during COVID-19

The volunteer-run group is cooking meals and checking in on isolated seniors

Three weekly direct flights from Port Hardy to Vancouver starting June 1

Direct between Bella Bella and Vancouver not resuming at this time

UPDATE: Local taxi company applying to opertate north island bus route

Waivin’ Flags Taxi wants to operate Route 5 between Cambpell River and Port Hardy

Change in service: Port Hardy is switching from bi-weekly garbage pick up to weekly schedule

The cost for the weekly garbage pick up service is an additional $30.12 annually.

Cancelling bus service between Campbell River and Port Hardy will compromise health access, region warns

Mount Waddington Health Network says transportation primary factor for rural health access

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Most Read