As weather conditions and drought continue to raise the wildfire threat in Southern California, especially given the early start to this year's fire season, the University of California, Riverside, offers faculty experts who can add depth and meaning to journalists' stories.
Thomas Meixner, assistant professor of hydrology and water resources, Department of Environmental Sciences.
He researches the effects of drought on the environment and how drought conditions contribute to the fire danger in the San Bernardino Mountains and on post-fire conditions that contribute to floods and mudslides. He works on measuring, understanding and modeling the processes that determine the water quality of streams. His research focuses on improving field techniques for measuring and incorporating the information revealed by these measurements into models of watershed water quality. The majority of his research has been conducted in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino Mountains of California.
Office phone: (909) 787-2356
Richard Minnich, professor of geography, Department of Earth Sciences.
His specialty is fire ecology. He says the winds, the drought, the heat and the bark beetles have combined to create an unprecedented fire danger. Minnich can compare and contrast how fire suppression policy in Southern California and Baja California differ and how those differences affect the fire-health of wildlands in the two regions. Traditional fire suppression policy to put out the small fires that might clear away brush contribute to making the big fires, when they come along, worse than they might have otherwise been. "The danger of a half dead forest is absolutely phenomenal," he said of the conditions in the San Bernardino Mountains. For more than two years he has warned that the San Bernardino Mountains has become a tinderbox, which may touch off an inferno and that such fires would likely be unstoppable.
Office phone: (909) 787-5515
Peter Sadler, professor of geology, Department of Earth Sciences.
He gives presentations to explain the role of computer modeling in fire science. He has written graphical programs that model the long-term development of vegetation in response to wild fire, and allow scientists to study the role of nitrogen deposition on the Southern California landscape. His programs enable researchers to examine the long-term effects of changing the balance of wind, humidity, topography, vegetation age, and fire suppression efforts. However, the program does not model the short-term effects in a way that can guide firefighters at a particular fire. He cannot comment on an active fire, its suppression, or its ecological impact.
Office phone: (909) 787-5616