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Supercomputing Challenge

Predicting Wild Fires

Team: 1


Area of Science: Environmental Science


Define the Problem: Forrest fires are a growing concern in Santa Fe county and in many other areas of the world where the weather is hot and dry. They take a toll on natural resources and cause damage to lots of valuable property. Managing forest fires and keeping them under control is important to the safety of many American's. Since forest fires do occur naturally and are important to the ecosystems of the nation's forests we must find a way to make sure they do happen, but are kept under control. Government officials have to make decisions about where to do thinning projects or controlled burns. Government officials would be able to make more informed decisions if they had a simple way to analyze the results of their actions.

Problem Solution: We will attempt to create a program that will model the behavior of a forest fire in response to weather conditions, topography, the density of the trees, and other factors. It will show a visual of the progression of the fire and other helpful data. The program would be helpful to anyone who needed to know what a forest fire would do in various conditions. Government officials, fire fighters and other authorities would be able to use the program to predict the behavior of a forest fire to help them make decisions.

Progress so far: So far we have begun our research, discussed how we want our final model to work and created a simple program that gives an idea of what we want our final project to look like. The research we have done has helped us realize how we are going to create the program, but we will need to do more research in order to make our program as accurate as possible. We have decided to do an agent based model and use one tree, or one clump of trees as each component of the model. The trees will react to each other based on which trees are on fire, how far apart they are, where the wind is blowing and other environmental factors. The program we already created shows a visual of a forest fire progressing, but does not necessarily reflect real data. It is to show what we want our program to portray visually, but we want our final program to be more scientifically accurate.

This is a screen shot of the program we have created

Result we Expect: The end result we hope to create with our project is a computer program that will simulate a forest fire as accurately as possible and present the user with information that will help them to help prevent future forest fires, or help fight an actively burning forest fire. It will show a visual of the progress of the fire and some other important information that would be helpful for an official to make informed decisions regarding forest fires. We also hope to make it fun for people to use just to see what would happen to a Forest Fire in various situations. Our goal is to make it flexible enough that it can be both a useful tool, and an enjoyable tool for experimentation.


  • 'Wildfire' –

  • 'New Mexico Fire Information' –

  • 'National Interagency Fire Center' –

  • 'New Mexico Incident Management Team' –

  • 'Bureau of Land Management' -

    Team Members:

      Christopher Hughes
      Ruben Hamming-Green

    Sponsoring Teacher: Terrill Nickerson

    Mail the entire Team