Dr. Evan Ellicott, along with colleagues from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering (Dr. Michael Gollner & Dr. Arnaud Trouve) and Department of Atmospheric & Ocean Science (Dr. Kayo Ide) were recently awarded $1.3M by the the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study wildfires in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) as part NSF's PREEVENTS Program. The study, titled "Fire Spread at the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI): Modeling and Data Assimilation for Prediction and Risk assessment (WUI – MAPR)," aims to fill a critical but missing link in current predictive capabilities related to wildfires – a model that can simulate the multi-scale dynamic processes leading to propagation of spreading fires from the wildland into communities. Modeling spread in these areas is different than wildland fuels as most structure ignitions are first caused by embers - small burning particles which ignite new fires ahead of the fire front. Later, fires move from home to home in dense neighborhoods, causing considerable devastation. The proposed modeling is critical for pre-fire risk assessments and real-time fire spread modeling. Data from fire investigations provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) will be used throughout the development process.
Dr. Ellicott's focus will be on examining fire intensity through remotely sensed fire characterization. A combination of laboratory and field experiments will be employed as inputs to be assimilated into fire spread and behavior models.