A view of Lahaina taken on September 28th. Photo courtesy of MONIQUE CHYBA.

In the wake of the deadly Maui wildfires, four University of Hawaii-led projects have received rapid-track RAPID grants totaling nearly $800,000 from the National Science Foundation. RAPID funds are used for proposals with extreme urgency regarding the availability or access of data, facilities, or specialized equipment, such as rapid response research on natural disasters.

Three projects focus on data science and are working intensively to help prevent and respond to future wildfires in Hawaii. This includes multi-hazard monitoring and detection systems, computer modeling to aid wildfire response, and modeling wildland and urban fires using high-performance computing models. They plan to address fire-causing sources, such as invasive grasses and non-native trees such as cook pine and eucalyptus.

The fourth project focuses on the human element, with university researchers meeting with educators, youth, community members, and cultural practitioners to understand the impact of wildfires on K-12 education and to address trauma. Learn how to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) based on We may be able to assist you in processing and recovery.

Multi-hazard monitoring and detection system

The Lahaina wildfires were exacerbated by drought, high temperatures and winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed south of the island. The project combines the University of California’s Climate Mesonet System (a series of densely spaced observation stations) and Northwestern University’s Sage artificial intelligence-enhanced instrument platform to predict the effects of natural disasters such as fires, high winds, and floods. Build a multi-hazard monitoring and detection station for The system is being deployed near the Lahaina fire scene to collect data critical to recovery efforts.

This project will collect critical climate and pollutant data to support Lahaina’s cleanup efforts and obtain performance and reliability data to guide both equipment hardening and Lahaina’s recovery plan.

This project will provide critical data to inform Lahaina’s recovery while highlighting the benefits of adopting recent advances in climate science and cyberinfrastructure. Where possible, we will recruit local Maui students to participate in instrument building, data collection, analysis, and visualization efforts.

The project is led by University of Mānoa Water Resources Research Center principal investigator and information and computer science professor Jason Lee and co-principal investigators Thomas Giambelka and Christopher Schuller.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and property caused by the Lahaina Fire.” Lee said. “This is a solemn reminder of the powerful forces of nature that seek to impact our islands at any time. Our insights and advances in cutting-edge technology will pave the way to deeper understanding and perhaps We hope this will help prevent heartbreaking incidents like this in the future.”

Computational modeling of wildfire management

Accurate and timely predictions of how wildfires will spread are essential to informing people, minimizing loss of life, and reducing damage through effective fire suppression operations. In the wake of the devastation of the Lahaina Fire, it is important to improve these processes.

The project, led by UH Mānoa graduate professor and Maui resident Alice Koeniges, uses level-set methods and a mathematical concept called the Hamilton-Jacobi equation to investigate the potential of saving lives and infrastructure from future wildfires. Develop a fire computer model.

This research creates a new model for understanding the complex algorithmic and mathematical foundations of wildfire response to help allocate resources in real-time disaster situations like the Lahaina wildfire. A particular focus is on improving human evacuation models.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with Professors Andrea Bertozzi and Stanley Osher of UCLA and Professor Hannah Kerner of Arizona State University. The project will also involve high school and community college students from Maui’s Āina Data Stewards program. The program, co-founded and co-led by Mr. Kerner, teaches students fundamental concepts in machine learning and data science while enabling them to contribute to active research. Project with field data collection.

The project will consider the effects of terrain in wildfire modeling, as well as the additional risk of fuels from non-native trees and grasses.

Additionally, the project will engage and train doctoral students in mathematics-based disaster mitigation and modeling methods.

“We are grateful to have experts in mathematical modeling to help us deepen our understanding and prepare for future disasters.” Lead researcher Koeniges said: “Additionally, training the next generation of modeling professionals will benefit the future of our island community.”

Wilderness and urban fire modeling

Due to Lahaina’s isolated location and limited wind and environmental observations, other data sources could help advance modeling and simulation studies before these data sources are lost. The project takes data from multiple sources, such as social media and time-stamped photos, and organizes it using AI-enhanced data collection, processing, and injection methods. University of Maui students will play a key role in this project.

This study demonstrates the importance of data in understanding how wildfires propagate within communities and their interactions with urban structures, and an additional goal is to help the general public. to educate Hawaii’s government and emergency responders in subsequent decision-making. About disasters.

The project uses advanced AI techniques deployed on high-performance computing resources at the University of California, as well as resources from the National Science Foundation and other national infrastructure, to coordinate and validate fire propagation and atmospheric simulations. process large amounts of data. The data collected will be archived and made available to the public.

The project’s principal investigator is Maui resident David Eder, a graduate faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UH Mānoa. Co-principal investigator Sean Cleveland is a computational scientist at the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Data Science Institute. He is a fire modeling expert at the University of Nevada, Reno, the University at Buffalo, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“We are committed to using and leveraging high-performance computing facilities at the University of California and across the country to better understand the series of tragic events that have had such a devastating impact on Maui. We focus on the best possible computational models.” Edel said.

“Working directly with students to understand and prevent similar incidents is one small thing we can do.”

Trauma-informed STEM education

In this project, University of California researchers will focus on educators and youth on Maui. In order to move forward from tragedy, they understand the multilayered effects of direct trauma on K-12 education and how trauma-informed STEM education can help process, heal, and recover. I believe it is important to learn.

As Hawaii residents and STEM educators with rich and deep roots in the Maui community, the researchers will apply a framework developed by principal investigator Tara O’Neill, a professor in the College of Education. It involves connecting with communities and learning from their places, people, kupuna and mo’olelo. It requires asking for and offering Kokua, and engaging with the people of the place at their invitation.

Terrifying fires provide a valuable source of knowledge related to both the layers of trauma that result from catastrophic events such as wildfires and how trauma-informed STEM education can provide tools to recover from trauma. Masu.

Maui has some excellent schools and community-based STEM education programs. The goal of this project is to work with individual educators, community members, and cultural practitioners involved in some of these programs to build knowledge (understand the nature and impact of trauma) and to collaborate with communities. The goal is to create a mentally healthy STEM learning environment for him. is processing and repair, and STEM content and activities are applied as tools for processing and repair.

The project is being led by O’Neill and co-principal investigators Monique Chiba and Yuri Mireiko of the UH Mānoa Department of Mathematics, and Thomas Blamey of the University of Maui.

“Our goal is to understand the multiple layers of direct trauma impact on K-12 education and work with communities to build long-term interventions.” O’Neill said. “We believe the information we have learned will help the Hawaii Department of Education and other state agencies develop more careful short- and long-term plans.”

Chiba added: “Learning, teaching, and helping is why I entered academia, and I am honored to be able to attempt to do just that with this project.”

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