Saturday, October 22, 2011

Models and their limitations: Forest Fire Behaviour (NYT)

Models - a mathematical interpretation of the relationship(s) between parameters within systems.  Models and the ever expanding computational capacity through advances in memory, storage, chip speed, have made phenomenal achievements in helping understand how many of our own and the earth's systems work.

All these models require assumptions and input data.  And in some cases the assumptions are, well, just assumptions, and not necessarily based upon the actual knowledge.  Not all assumptions are exact or accurate.  So as some many modelers have said, garbage in, garbage out.  

And today a brief look at forest fire modeling and actual fire behaviour.  And as has been shown in so many other disciplines throughout the social and physical sciences, models have their limitations.

It turns out, however, that the behavior of fires in the real world is different from what the models suggest.

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