From June 16-20, I was in Northwestern Ontario with several other scientists, courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Fire organization, that organized the tour to familiarize us with some of their current problems. One such problem, to which I'll be returning here, is storm-damaged and windthrown ("blowdown") forests - millions of hectares of forest have been disturbed by wind events, including tornadoes, with an increasing amount of such disturbance in the past 5-10 years. The fire organization needs to know how to deal with these damaged forests, how they are likely to burn, and what the pattern and predictability of these events is. They are fascinating and important problems.
On the tour were Mike Wotton and Dave Martell from the U of T firelab, of which I am an associate. Martell, who studies fire management, was my PhD supervisor and Wotton, who studies fire behavior, and I are frequent colalborators. Also on the tour were Bill de Groot of the Canadian Forest Service, Ray Ault of FP Innovations, Thomas Garvey of Carleton University, and Rob McAlpine and Terry Popowich of the OMNR (who actually organized the tour).
Each of these are people I respect tremendously and deserve treatment at length. But Thomas Garvey expressed interest in blogging about the tour (I realize a retrospective blog is not the same as a live blog, but hopefully interesting nonetheless) and Dave Martell suggested a fire science blog would be a good idea. So we'll try to do that here. Hopefully we can start with some guest blogging from Thomas Garvey, an industrial design professor at Carleton University in Ottawa whose fascinating way of looking at things was contagious. If not, I'll write a bit on the tour here in the coming weeks.