6 Climate Change Technologies to Help Tackle Wildfires
Wildfires are a problem worldwide, causing severe impacts on residents and economies and contributing to climate change. The worsening wildfire picture attests to both the alarming rate that our planet is heating and the insufficiency of mitigation technologies to date.
Fortunately, that’s beginning to change and innovative new solutions for tackling forest fires are coming to the fore. These climate change technologies are changing things for the better.
In 2022 wildfires burned more than 5.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In 2018, wildfires in California cost the US economy $148.5bn with economic losses to 80 industry sectors, according to the UCL.
As pointed out by the US Government, damages and losses are much higher if you factor in firefighting efforts and rehabilitation costs. While conservationists and firefighters work tirelessly to stop new wildfires from spreading, many technologies can help curb the spread of existing wildfires.
New technologies are constantly being developed to help fight wildfires. Let's look at six rapidly emerging technologies that can help fight wildfires around the world and help in the fight against climate change.
1. Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit
While still at the concept stage, this ultra-modern technology is a series of drones and satellites equipped with infrared sensors.
Developed by the astrophysicist Carlton Pennypacker, Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit (FUEGO) hopes to detect the early warning signs of wildfires from space. FUEGO will use platforms at various altitudes, including satellites that orbit the earth.
This technology is new and is yet to be tested, but it’s a good example of some of the bleeding-edge climate change technologies being developed to fight forest fires.
2. Drones to Identify Fire Spread
Drones are an increasingly utilized form of new technology, and they have recently been suggested as one of the latest climate change technologies.
Drones can spend up to eight hours in the air at a time, allowing them to carry wildfire monitoring technologies to speak directly to forest service teams.
They provide an ideal solution for monitoring wildfire spread when smoke is too thick for manned aircraft.
“There are certain times that it’s just not safe for us to utilize manned helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft, like nighttime operations or in thick smoke or high winds,” explains Justin Baxter, the Forest Service National UAS Operations Specialist in Wildfire Today.
While proving useful in protecting lives and monitoring wildfire spread, drones come up short when it comes to providing solutions for wildfires at the early stages.
3. Infrared Cameras
Infrared cameras or thermal imaging are the perfect climate change technology partners for drones. Like drones, they don’t provide solutions to forest fires but can detect and report heat, even without a flame.
This means that drones monitoring the forest canopies can detect wildfires when they’re on a smaller scale. Conservationists can see clearly where the fire is burning at its hottest point to locate where the fire is located within the forest vs. radiated heat.
This kind of climate change technology is helpful when navigating vast wooded areas and was pivotal in monitoring wildfires in Oregon in 2020.
4. I4F instant Foam
Sometimes, water isn’t the best way to fight wildfires. Often they’re too extreme for water to cope with alone. Vast quantities of water are needed to fight fires, and often water is wasted during transportation. Dropping water isn’t always accurate, according to Cordis EU Research.
The foam technology developed by Cordis is more accurately able to coat vast forest areas, evenly distributing foam in areas where water may be ineffective.
While firefighting with foam isn’t a new solution for wildfire, the I4F foam has been developed to be less wasteful than traditional forms of foam. As a climate change technology, it's more environmentally friendly than other foams.
5. Firefighting Robots
Robots have been leading the way in firefighting in urban areas and are now being used as a firefighting solution for forest fires.
Using a robot or a multi-agent RVC, as described by IOP Science, allows first responders to control them using a remote control unit. The units are self-propelled and come equipped with a firefighting nozzle, blade, and winch making them an effective climate change technology and firefighting solution.
Unfortunately, the remote controls are currently ineffective and difficult to manipulate, but technology is quickly advancing to help create units that are easier to manage.
6. Sensor Networks
IoT, or the internet of things, provides a neat solution to ultra-early wildfire detection and a secure and efficient data network. Paired with the latest climate change technologies in wildfire sensors, they provide effective solutions for forest fire detection.
These wildfire sensors by Dryad Networks monitor the microclimate of a forested area, including temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Dryad’s network of sensors operates on a distributed LoRaWAN® gateway to send alerts at the first signs of wildfire.
Compared to other solutions for forest fires, the Dryad Silvanet network is the best way to detect fires before they become a real problem. Sensors can detect fires at the smolder stage in less than 60 minutes.
Combined with some of the other climate change technologies we’ve explored, using a network of sensors that can be deployed deep in the forest is the most effective way to detect and prevent wildfires.
Dryad's solution is unique in its ability to provide rapid detection at large scales. Other technologies may be complementary, but none can match our speed. In order to achieve early detection, a sensor network will be necessary. All other options are too slow.
Want to discover more about Dryad Networks? Book a free demo with our knowledgeable team.