Exploring Scanning Lidar’s Application in the Fire Weather Sector

 Attendees at the Fire Continuum Conference afterparty. Photo courtesy of Dave Zader, City of Boulder Fire Department.

Attendees at the Fire Continuum Conference afterparty. Photo courtesy of Dave Zader, City of Boulder Fire Department.

This May, NRG Product Manager Dwyer Haney attended two fire weather conferences in the American West. The purpose of the trip was to explore potential applications of Scanning Lidar within the fire meteorology sector, specifically for studying wildfire behavior.

The first stop on Haney’s trip was the American Meteorological Society’s 12th Fire and Forest Meteorology Symposium in Boise, Idaho. Organized by the AMS Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, the Symposium focuses on the meteorological aspects of wildfires, such as climate-related impacts, fire-atmosphere interactions, and more. He then made his way to Missoula, Montana, where the Fire Continuum Conference was being held. Co-hosted by the Association for Fire Ecology and the International Association of Wildland Fire, this event has a much broader focus, but also touches on the meteorological implications of fire weather.

By attending these events and speaking with a number of fire weather professionals, Haney gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of fire weather and how Scanning Lidar’s unique capabilities can provide insight that has never been available in the past. Wildfire research focuses on the wide variety of environmental and atmospheric variables that affect fire growth and smoke dynamics. Today, most studies rely on computer models that use limited seed data from ground met stations (that could be dozens of miles away from an actual fire). Scanning Lidar is an exceptionally valuable tool in this context because it allows users to collect direct observations of the phenomenon that the models try to describe.

The Windcube 400S Scanning Lidar can measure wind speeds and directions up to 10km away and smoke concentrations up to 14km away to give researchers a comprehensive view of the dynamics of these large, destructive wildfires. We can envision a future where Scanning Lidar will be deployed to wildfires not just for improved weather prediction models, but also to directly ensure the safety of firefighters that are on the ground battling these blazes. 

Please contact David Simkins at des@nrgsystems.com to learn more about Scanning Lidar and its various meteorological applications.