Over the years, scientists have created measurement scales to assess the risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. In addition to measuring the severity of individual events, the scales are used to help determine the design and location of homes and other structures in the likely path of such natural disasters.
Now, researchers with the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Forest Service have crafted the first such system to help landowners and communities better prepare for and resist another threat: wildland fires.
Such fires have become a growing threat in what’s known as the “wildland-urban interface” (WUI) – those places where suburban development has pushed farther and farther into forests, natural grasslands, and other areas where fire is part of the natural ecology, especially in the American West.
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