WSU partners to help communities prepare for wildfires

By Tara Roberts, University of Idaho communications, Wash. – More than 6,000 fires have burned more than 1 million acres in the Northwest in 2015, and experts predict severe wildfires in coming years.

To help Northwest communities prepare, Washington State University and University of Idaho researchers are studying ways to increase communities’ ability to withstand and recover from wildfires. The work is funded with a new $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

An interdisciplinary research team will focus on improving models that predict where fires are likely to occur, how severe they will be and whether they are likely to produce post-fire floods and landslides. The team will then create a virtual early warning system to help identify particularly vulnerable communities and ecosystems in the region.

The researchers will work closely with an advisory team of academic, government and industry stakeholders to help translate the research results into action plans for communities at risk.

WSU team members are Jennifer Adam, lead of WSU BioEarth, a modeling platform that will be improved for wildfire; Mingliang Liu, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; Jon Yoder, School of Economic Sciences; and Chad Kruger, director of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The project is funded under NSF grant No. 1520873.


Jennifer Adam, WSU BioEarth, 509-335-7751,