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A new wildfire research center opened this week at San Jose State, university officials announced.

The Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center, which made its debut Tuesday, is housed in the SJSU College of Science. It is intended to serve as the leading institution in California and provide modern research on wildfire science and management.

“In just the past few years, wildfires have scorched California’s landscape, burning millions of acres, injuring and killing hundreds of people and causing billions of dollars in damages. Dealing with this challenge requires interdisciplinary solutions,” said College of Science Dean Michael Kaufman. “The advanced wildfire research enabled by this new center is needed now more than ever before.”

The new center, staffed with five new tenure-track faculty members and millions of dollars in new technology, will work through an interdisciplinary model with the College of Social Sciences and the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

The academic team will specialize in fire ecology, fire and fluid dynamics, wildfire behavior modeling and wildfire meteorology, wildfire remote sensing, as well as wildfire management and policy.

“The advanced wildfire research enabled by this new center is needed now more than ever before.”

Michael Kaufman, San Jose State University

Craig Clements, a professor of meteorology and climate science and director of the Fire Weather Research Lab at SJSU, will serve as director of the new Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center.

“San Jose State is bringing together some of the top academic experts in the world who have extensive experience in wildfire science, management, climate and meteorological research,” said Clements. “This is truly a world-class group that is passionate about advancing wildfire science.”

Clements said the technology will also be world-class and help “strengthen the prediction, monitoring and management of wildfires throughout California.”

Technology includes an advanced, next-generation, wildfire-atmosphere forecasting system and mobile assets.

Mobile assets include two customized trucks equipped with Doppler radar and one truck with Doppler LiDAR — the only mobile fire weather units in the country. They are also the only fire weather research units in the United States qualified to go behind fire lines, according to the university.

Currently there are three wildfire classes available to SJSU students but with the center, five more will open in fall 2021 as well as a minor program in wildfire sciences.