Blazing Fast Relief

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 09:21 in Earth & Climate

A NASA-supported tool is accelerating wildfire recovery Burned Area Emergency Response teams— they may be one of most important parts of wildfires that you’ve probably never heard of. As the last flames of a raging wildfire are being contained, these BAER crews begin safeguarding lives, property, and natural resources threatened by additional perils that fires create. Scorched Earth “Wildfire reduces or removes vegetation and ground cover protecting forest soils,” said Mary Ellen Miller, a research engineer from Michigan Tech Research Institute. “This loss of forest vegetation increases the risk of runoff, flooding, and landslides when soils become saturated.” For BAER crews, this means time is of the essence. Their first task? Create a burn severity map that reflects the changes in both land-cover and soil properties caused by the fire. The maps inform the teams’ recommendations and decisions on stabilization and recovery for the burned area, or burn scar. Actions typically include treatments...

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