Hazardous Fuel Assessments Using LIDAR and Field Measurements
Lasers, in what is termed Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems, are being used by NRS researchers Nicholas Skowronski and Kenneth Clark to measure forest structure and canopy fuel loading at the Silas Little Experimental Forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. These systems can detect and accurately quantify flammable parts of canopy and understory that will burn in wildfires in 1-meter-thick layers. Currently, they are used to determine hazardous fuel loads around homes and commercial developments. This information can be used to guide risk-mitigation practices and zoning policy and is applicable to any wildland-urban interface area. Skowronski and Clark's research will appear in Remote Sensing of Environment soon, and researchers at the Silas Little EF have recently received a grant from the Joint Fire Sciences Program to validate crown fuel estimates made using LIDAR technology.