Studying Wildfires, Saving Lives

SJSU’s resident wildfire weather expert hit the road recently, driving all the way to Texas to learn more about the super dynamic atmospheric conditions inside and around blazes so we can better predict wildfire behavior, saving lives and property. Craig Clements, an associate professor with the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, and his graduate students tested their mobile atmospheric profiling system, a truck pulling a compact trailer loaded with the latest tech tools including lidar and sodar, which use light and sound waves to track winds. Clements’ and his team led a group of over 50 scientists in an experiment called FireFlux II, which included airborne imagery from a helicopter that flew over the 150-acre controlled burn ignited by the Texas A&M Forest Service. Clements’ groundbreaking research is funded in part by a $900,000 grant from The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty members nationwide. In 2011, Professor Clements received the SJSU Research Foundation‘s Early Career Investigator Award, which recognizes tenure-track faculty members who excel in research, scholarship and creative activity, and have secured funds for research early in their careers. View a related television news report.