Seminar Preview: ” Facing a Fiery Future: Wildfire Applications of Remote Sensing”

The Susie Fire burning on August 4, 2011 northwest of Elko, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Susie Fire burning on August 4, 2011 northwest of Elko, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Wildfires have become dramatically larger and more frequent across the western United States over the past 30 years, according to a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters. The study states that between 1984 and 2011, the number of wildfires in this region increased by about seven fires per year, for a total annual burned-area increase of about 90,000 acres–an area the size of Las Vegas. As large-scale climate change brings rising temperatures and more intense periods of drought, these trends are likely to continue, the study suggests. Fighting these fires currently costs more than $3 billion per year, according to Headwaters Economics.

Tomorrow, U of U geography professor Philip Dennison–lead author of the recent study– will deliver the fifth of eight

U of U Geography Professor Philip Dennison measuring burned vegetation in  Southern California after a 2003 wildfire. Photo by Philip Dennison.

U of U Geography Professor Philip Dennison measuring burned vegetation in
Southern California after a 2003 wildfire. Photo by Philip Dennison.

installments in the Global Change and Sustainability Center’s Fall Seminar Series, entitled “Facing a Fiery Future: Wildfire Applications of Remote Sensing.” According to his abstract, Dennison will discuss the use of remotely-sensed data, including time series multispectral, hyperspectral and lidar datasets, to better understand pre-fire and post-fire landscapes, at both local and regional scales. Dennison will also explain the remote sensing “signatures” that are used in a variety of wildfire applications, such as measuring fire danger, analyzing trends in fire activity, and developing new methods for keeping firefighters safe.

Remote sensing generally refers to the gathering of information without actually making physical contact with the object or phenomenon being studied. It often relies on satellites, planes, or other aerial technology to gather the information.

Dennison’s talk will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in 295 FASB (Sutton Bldg.)

The Global Change and Sustainability Fall Seminar Series is held on alternate Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. Next on the docket will be Robert Grow, director of Envision Utah, on Nov. 4th.

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