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Wildfire Simulation Heats Up

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A helicopter drops water from a buck to fight a raging forest fire.

Previous forest-scale fire simulations have represented trees as simple cones or cylinders, reducing the accuracy of the simulation.

An international team led by researchers at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has generated an accurate forest-scale simulation of wildfire behavior. The model must incorporate tree combustion and fluid dynamics, and factor in environmental variations such as tree density, terrain, and wind.

"Our work can help to make real forest fires more predictable by simulating potential fire scenarios with real forestry data," said KAUST's Torsten Hädrich. "We are also able to simulate how firebreaks in forests can be used to contain fire spread."

The researchers' technique can simulate trees as collections of branch-like modules, which Hädrich said "provides a way to control the level of detail for the simulation."

From King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
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