WIRC Team Takes Their Wildfire Knowledge Abroad to Greece

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Research and Innovation

SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center’s long-term collaboration with Greece will help build up the country’s fire management technology.

Craig Clements, professor of meteorology and climate science and director of San José State University’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC), and the WIRC team recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Observatory of Athens allowing WIRC to share research and technologies with Greece. Clements and the team are currently training local researchers on how to use SJSU’s upper air sounding system, known as the radiosonde system, especially on critical fire weather days. Once the training is complete, local experts can use it to take observations in Greece.

Craig Clements on the phone

Professor Craig Clements leading the WIRC team at the Canyon Fire experiment in Salinas on October 24, 2022. Photo: Robert C. Bain.

Clements says there are many similarities between Greece and California — shrub types, fire weather conditions and fuels are similar. Fire behavior is also similar, with downslope winds that drive fires rapidly through dry fuels. He added that one of his goals for the visit is to learn about Greece’s wildfire experiences and how they attack the wildfire problem with their current use of fire management technology. To highlight potential collaborations in handling wildfires, Clements is sharing how Cal Fire and SJSU collaborate and how they may be able to model this interaction in Greece. 

Like the National Weather Service in the U.S., the National Observatory of Athens meteorological group provides all the weather forecasting for the entire nation of Greece. To continue the long-term collaboration between WIRC and the National Observatory of Athens, in 2024 WIRC plans to help the National Observatory of Athens develop a field observation program with mobile radar. 

(Editor’s note: See below for recent interviews Clements conducted while in Greece discussing the work WIRC is doing with the National Observatory of Athens.)

Clements’ interview with KRON4

Clements’ interview with BBC: