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Scientists survey potential sites for wildfire research

May 16, 2024

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Scientists survey the Mosquito Fire burn scar where trees have been cleared. This may serve as a site for new observing systems to be deployed.GSL and UC-Berkeley scientists survey possible new observation sites in the Mosquito Fire burn scar.

Blodgett Forest sits about 30 miles west of Lake Tahoe, and was the site of the 2022 Mosquito Fire, the largest California wildfire in 2022. GSL researchers visited the burn scar in April, 2024 to see if it could serve as one of four new NOAA remote weather and soil observation stations in the Western United States.

The instruments to be installed at these sites will measure wind, temperature, and humidity profiles in the lowest layer of the atmosphere. In addition to monitoring active fires, they will also provide observations that could provide early warnings of high-risk weather conditions.

This work is funded by the 2023 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Provision 15 that requires NOAA to “deploy new observation systems to better monitor the environment around fires. These systems will provide powerful datasets used to better understand a range of atmospheric processes, and round-the-clock monitoring of fire and weather conditions to inform forecasting and firefighting activities.”

Wildfires have been a natural, cyclical, and seasonal event in many Western states for thousands of years, but Earth's shifting climate has more recently turned fire into a year-round threat. Year after year, wildfires fill the nation’s skies with smoke, threaten lives, destroy homes, paint the hills black with burn scars, pollute water supplies, disrupt economies, and alter the landscape for generations.

By helping build and deploy new observing systems, advance high-resolution forecast models, and accelerate the transition of experimental products to operations, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in NOAA’s fire weather research will help ensure that NOAA continues to build a Fire-Ready Nation.

Monitoring and forecasting
Supporting wildfire incident management
NOAA fire weather research