We utilize satellite data to quantify California’s fire topography by building both a database of historical fire severity and a regression model predicting future fire severity. Since 2010, California’s fire suppression budget has increased more than 10-fold and fire departments now have big, expensive decisions to make re: how to spend those fire suppression dollars. Which areas should be prioritized to receive preemptive fire mitigation efforts? If a fire is quickly spreading through wildlands, which front should fire fighting efforts be focused on?
Overall, our tools help fire managers choose which fires to suppress and which to let burn. Specifically, if a wildfire were to occur in a given area, can we predict the burn severity level there given satellite imagery as input? This will serve as an advisory tool for fire managers considering whether to conduct prescribed burns and other mitigation efforts in a given area, as well as make real-time decisions about how to manage a burning wildfire.