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Understanding Extreme Fire Weather Conditions

Professor Andrew Plantinga joins UC-wide collaborative project on wildfires

Jan 7 2020 UCSB Current

A wildfire burns next to a forest road

As illustrated by the many recent PG&E planned power outages, the wildfires that have ravaged California over the past decade are now beginning to affect the state in unexpected ways.

Policymakers, professionals and scientists are working to develop new strategies to prevent and respond to wildfires. Among them is UC Santa Barbara Professor Charles Jones, who will take a comprehensive look at the issues affecting wildfires in a newly awarded $3.3 million project he will lead in 2020.

Every year, the University of California Lab Fees Program funds a select group of collaborative research projects with money it receives for running two of the nation’s national laboratories. The initiatives selected this year include Jones’ systemic research effort into extreme fire weather, climate change, the electric power grid and vegetation management.

“The project’s goal is to help us understand more about extreme fire weather conditions,” said Jones, who studies this topic in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Geography. Extreme fire weather is characterized by high temperatures, high wind speeds, dry vegetation and low humidity — conditions that climatologists expect to become more prevalent in the American West as climate change proceeds.

The investigation will focus on four interrelated key topics: climate change and fire weather, vegetation management, the electric power grid and associated policies and practices.

The UCSB research team also includes Professors Anna Trugman, Bren Professor Andrew Plantinga, and Leila Carvalho. Together with Jones, they will collaborate with eight other researchers at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, as well as Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National labs — two of the three national labs that the UC helps to manage.

Read full story at: The UCSB Current

Credit: Harrison Tasoff