Hot Topic: Multidisciplinary Investigations into Controlled Burns

From left, Bryan Quaife, assistant professor of scientific computing, Rod Linn, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Neda Yaghoobian, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and Kevin Hiers, of the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, won a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study smoke plumes from prescribed fire. Photo by Mark Wallheiser / FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.


In the effort to mitigate destructive wildfires, wildland managers often fight those uncontrolled fires with prescribed fire — carefully controlled burns to safely eliminate the vegetation that piles up on forest floors and adds to potential fuel. Prescribed fires are an important tool for managing fire-prone landscapes, but they come with a cost. Fire makes smoke, which carries tiny, unburnt particles through the air, lowering air quality and making breathing more difficult.

A $2.2 million Department of Defense grant will fund an FSU investigation into the dynamics of smoke from prescribed burns, giving land managers a better understanding of when and how to best use the technique.

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