Climate change is contributing significantly to the number and intensity of wildfires.

Just this year, to date, millions of acres of trees and even entire towns, have been destroyed; right here in Canada and worldwide. The impact is felt both on the ground, and in the air, from the toxic smoke these blazes feed into the air we breathe, to the scorched earth they leave in their wake.

In a vicious cycle, climate change contributes to wildfires – hotter temperatures cause more evaporation that dries out forests, making them much more likely to burn – while the fires, in turn, contribute to climate change by releasing vast quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

At TAU, our researchers have already developed innovative technology uses like cellphones to monitor fire danger that can help avoid significant destruction.

Hofit Shahaf, Ph.D. Student, Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences

Predicting Forest Fires with Smart Phones

Canadians have seen how devastating wildfires can be. This year alone, more fires have burned in B.C. than ever before. There is no more time to wait, we must act now to find innovative and creative solutions to climate change. The work of students and faculty at TAU’s Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, are leading the way in addressing environmental threats to our planet.

PhD student Hofit Shachaf’s study is an example of a real solution that can have real impact.  Hofit found a unique way to identify and warn people about conditions that help cause wildfires. She showed how a smartphone’s built-in sensors – that measure environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure and magnetic field – can be used to predict forest fires. 

Her research, based on data collected over a period of four years from roughly 40,000 smartphones worldwide, can be helpful in identifying areas susceptible to such devastating blazes made worse by climate change.

LINK to her work:

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