EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ML-based fire spread model and data pipeline optimization

Tobias Bauer1,2, Julia Miller5,6, Julia Gottfriedsen2,4, Christian Mollière2, Juan Durillo Barrionuevo3, and Nicolay Hammer3
Tobias Bauer et al.
  • 1Technical University of Munich, Department of Informatics, Garching bei München, Germany
  • 2OroraTech GmbH
  • 3Leibniz Supercomputing Centre of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • 4Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  • 5Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 6WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges to humankind today. The number and severity of wildfires are increasing in many parts of the world, with record-breaking temperatures, prolonged heat waves, and droughts. We can minimize the risks and consequences of these natural disasters by providing accurate and timely wildfire progression predictions through fire spread modeling. Knowing the direction and rate of spread of wildfires over the next hours can help deploy firefighting resources more efficiently and warn nearby populations hours in advance to allow safe evacuation.
Physics-based spread models have proven their applicability on a regional scale but often require detailed spatial input data. Additionally, rendering them in real-time scenarios can be slow and therefore inhibit fast output generation. Deep learning-based models have shown success in specific fire spread scenarios in recent years. But they are limited by their transferability to other regions, explainability, and longer training time. Accurate active fire data products and a fast data pipeline are additional essential requirements of a wildfire spread early-warning system.
In this study, physical models are compared to a deep learning-based CNN approach in terms of computational speed, area accuracy, and spread direction. We use a dataset of the 30 largest wildfires in the US in the year 2021 to evaluate the performance of the model’s predictions.
This work focuses in particular on the optimization of a cloud-based fire spread modeling data pipeline for near-real-time fire progression over the next  2 to 24 hours. We describe our data pipeline, including the collection and pre-processing of ignition points derived from remote sensing-based active fire detections. Furthermore, we use data from SRTM-1 as topography, ESA Land Cover and Corine Land Cover for fuel composition, and ERA-5 Reanalysis products for weather data inputs. The application of the physics-based models is derived from the open-source library ForeFire, to create and execute physical wildfire spread models from single fire ignition points as well as fire fronts. The predictions of the ForeFire model serve as a benchmark for the evaluation of the performance of our Convolutional Neural Network. The CNN forecasts the fire outline based on a spatiotemporal U-Net architecture. 
The scaling of the algorithms to a global setting is enabled by the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre. It enables large-scale cloud-based machine learning to provide a time-sensitive solution for operational fire spread modeling in emergency management based on real-time remote sensing information. 

How to cite: Bauer, T., Miller, J., Gottfriedsen, J., Mollière, C., Durillo Barrionuevo, J., and Hammer, N.: ML-based fire spread model and data pipeline optimization, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14126,, 2023.