Tech tools touted for fending off Western wildfires

Black carbon concentration
A color-coded image based on NASA’s GEOS-5 satellite data model shows concentrations of black carbon in the atmosphere over North America on Aug. 15. (NASA Image)

The smoky skies over Seattle have cleared up somewhat, but the Pacific Northwest’s wildfires continue to burn — prompting pledges from Republicans as well as Democrats to beef up the region’s firefighting capabilities.

Advanced firefighting technologies, including satellite monitoring, drone patrols and risk management tools based on big data, received loud shout-outs today during a Capitol Hill news briefing.

“That’s the wave of the future,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the Trump administration would step up its coordination efforts with local and state authorities to prevent wildfires and to fight them once they start. “Frankly, we cannot do this ourselves,” Perdue said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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