Sep 25, 2023
Sonia Nieminen and Rahele Barjeste Vaezi
Desert Research Institute - Fire Science

Presenters from the Desert Research Institute, Rahele Barjeste Vaezi and Sonia Nieminen, will discuss two local research projects that aim to strengthen our understanding of wildfires. Rahele’s research area focuses on predictions of wildfire smoke emissions and their transport to receptor areas, as well as wildfire impacts on climate. The extensive emissions from these wildfires can significantly affect air quality and visibility, highlighting the importance of understanding how wildfires and their emissions may change in the future and of developing effective adaptation strategies. Rahele is currently pursuing her PhD in atmospheric science at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she also works as a teaching assistant. Additionally, she holds a research assistant position at the Statistical data analysis and Modeling of Atmosphere for Research and AI Technology (SMART) Lab at DRI. 

Sonia Nieminen will describe how community members’ observational skills can help improve analyses of wildfires through a project called Ashfall Citizen Science. Tracking changes in the smoke plume of a wildfire sheds light on the fire’s behavior, but analyzing the measurements involved requires a knowledge of the properties of the particles in the smoke plume. Community members who notice wildfire ash during their daily routine can help scientists to fill this knowledge gap by submitting photos of the ash to Ashfall Citizen Science. Sonia will describe how this project aims to both gather scientific data and to engage the public in scientific research and education. Sonia graduated from UNR with a bachelor’s degree in physics and currently works on citizen science projects at DRI.