The Fire Weather Research Laboratory is located in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science's Arnold True Atmospheric Observatory on the top floor of the Duncan Hall of Science at San José State University.
The Fire Weather Research Laboratory is the most well equipped fire weather research laboratory in the United States with a suite of assests including a network of remote fire weather stations, two 4x4 trucks equipped with Doppler lidar and radar, and an array of other laboratory facilities, sensor systems, and field equipment.
California State University-Mobile Atmospheric Profiling System (CSU-MAPS)
The CSU-MAPS is a joint facility developed by San José and San Francisco State Universities funded by the National Science Foundation. The CSU-MAPS is the most advanced mobile atmospheric boundary-layer profiling system in the US. Its mobile capability makes it an ideal platform for studying active wildfires in mountainous terrain. The system consists of two remote sensing tropospheric profilers: a scanning Doppler Lidar (Halo Photonics, Ltd, Streamline 75), and a microwave temperature and humidity profiler (Radiometrics, Inc., MP3000). These instruments are mounted in the back of a 2012 Ford F250 4x4 and allow quick deployment. The CSU-MAPS is also equipped with a Vaisala, Inc., MW31 DigiCora Radiosonde System for upper-air soundings. An additional radiosonde system (GRAW Radiosondes GmbH & Co. KG, GS-E) is mounted in the truck to provide mobile soundings anywhere. One of the key platforms is a mobile meteorological tower mounted on a dual-axle trailer. The tower is a 32 m (106 ft) telescopic tower with 5 levels of wind and temperature/RH measurements.
Instrument Testing and Calibration Facility
The lab consists of an instrument repair and testing facility including full electronics bench with tools, power supplies, multimeters, scopes, and soldering equipment. The wind tunnel has a 1m x 1m test section and is equipped with a Campbell Scientific CR10000 data logger.
The lab bench is used for instrument repairs and instrument preparation for field deployments. Additional lab equipment includes a thermocouple welder for building fire-wire thermocouples, tools, multimeters, and power supplies.
Fuel Sampling Facility
The lab conducts monthly and bi-month fuel sampling for wildfire danger assessment for the San Francisco Bay Area. Our fuel sampling site is located at Blackberry Hill near Los Gatos, California. Data are regularly uploaded to the National Fuel Moisture Database where it is available to the public.
The fuels station is equipped with a drying oven, multiple scales, and sampling containers and field tools.
Click here for fuel moisture data.
The lab space includes a conference table for group meetings, research discussion, and teaching. The lab has office space for post-doctoral researchers and desks for 5 graduate students.
Meteorological Equipment and Sensors
The lab is equipped with an extensive array of instrumentation to carry our elaborate field measurement campaigns including micrometeorological towers, upper-air soundings, and remote sensing of the boundary layer.
Three dimensional ultrasonic anemometers are used to measure turbulence and winds within the fire environment during the fire front passage. The sonic anemometers have to be specially calibrated to be able to measure the high air temperatures associated with the fire plume.
Upper-air radiosonde systems
The lab currently operates four different radiosonde systems, GRAW GS-E, GS-H, Intermet, and a Vaisala DigiCora III. The GRAW systems have been used the most and are very reliable.
Radiosonde systems provide valuable information on the state of the atmosphere including winds, temperature, humidity, and most importantly, atmospheric stability. These radiosonde systems are used by the laboratory during both field experiments and active wildfire incidents.