Adjusting Rate of Spread Factors through Derivative-Free Optimization: A New Methodology to Improve the Performance of Forest Fire Simulators

11 Sep 2019  ·  Jaime Carrasco, Cristobal Pais, Zuo-Jun Max Shen, Andres Weintraub ·

In practical applications, it is common that wildfire simulators do not correctly predict the evolution of the fire scar. Usually, this is caused due to multiple factors including inaccuracy in the input data such as land cover classification, moisture, improperly represented local winds, cumulative errors in the fire growth simulation model, high level of discontinuity/heterogeneity within the landscape, among many others... Therefore in practice, it is necessary to adjust the propagation of the fire to obtain better results, either to support suppression activities or to improve the performance of the simulator considering new default parameters for future events, best representing the current fire spread growth phenomenon. In this article, we address this problem through a new methodology using Derivative-Free Optimization (DFO) algorithms for adjusting the Rate of Spread (ROS) factors in a fire simulation growth model called Cell2Fire. To achieve this, we solve an error minimization optimization problem that captures the difference between the simulated and observed fire, which involves the evaluation of the simulator output in each iteration as part of a DFO framework, allowing us to find the best possible factors for each fuel present on the landscape. Numerical results for different objective functions are shown and discussed, including a performance comparison of alternative DFO algorithms. read more

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