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Wildfire Seminar Series: Mark Bathrick -- The Importance, Challenges, and Opportunities for Enabling Aerial Firefighting in Degraded Visual Environments

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Wildfires have become an increasingly destructive and costly national issue.  Since the 1990’s, the average area burned by wildfires each year has more than doubled from 3.3 million acres to 7.0 million acres.  A 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce estimated the annualized economic losses due to wildfire between $63.5B and $285B.  In 2018, wildfires in California alone resulted in $150B in direct and indirect economic losses.  While it is firefighters on the ground that contain and extinguish wildfires, aviation has provided them and the communities they protect with critical support since 1930.  However, in 2023, aerial firefighting remains largely as it was then, generally constrained to daytime, clear-air periods that encompass only about 8 hours per day, unable to fight fires and support communities during periods of degraded visual environments (DVE’s), where conditions often make the fire more vulnerable to suppression.  This seminar will examine the importance of aerial firefighting support during these DVE’s, the challenges in closing current coverage limitations, and the potential opportunities for enhanced firefighter safety and community protection if this 93-year-old aerial firefighting support gap can be closed.

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*The seminars will be exclusively on Zoom and require a SUNET ID

NOTE: For more seminar info & non-Stanford access, please contact no later than 24 hours prior to seminar