Wildfires are getting larger and more intense in the western United States and many regions of the world.

These fires can have devastating consequences for society, including loss of lives, destruction of property, increased levels of dangerous smoke, and damage to the economy. For example, wildfires in the U.S. burned 10.3 million acres in 2020, just a few thousand acres shy of the record set in 2015. The fires resulted in more than 40 deaths and caused $16.5 billion in damages. 

At NCAR, scientists are undertaking wildfire research on a variety of fronts. We’re working on improving models of wildfire behavior, using research aircraft and other tools to explore the air quality impacts of smoke plumes, understanding how wildfires may change in a warming climate, and much more.