In what could be a game changer for fighting wildfires, a grad student team led by Dr. Craig Clements is looking to improve data gathering to provide real-time and local forecasts for wildfires with the goal of saving lives, property and keeping fire teams safe. NBC Bay Area's Rob Mayeda had a chance to work with the team on controlled burn test near Mt. Hamilton where meteorology tools are now being put to use for the first time to see wildfire behavior and wind patterns in ways not though possible before. The field testing of the LIDAR (laser-beam based radar) was successful in revealing wind movement/velocities within the smoke plume, that could alert fire crews to downdrafts that could lead to a sudden flaring outward of flames along the fire front. The next goal for the SJSU team is to take the project mobile, with the ability track major wildfires from a truck-mounted system later this Fall as fire season peaks.
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Fighting Wildfires With Science
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