Ep. 60Fire Technology, Emergency Management and Building Resilience at Scale With Dr. Jessica McCarty

In this episode, we spoke with Dr. Jessica McCarty—the branch chief for the Biospheric Sciences branch at NASA—about her career, her work on fire in boreal and arctic ecosystems (within the context of the Canadian wildfires last summer), her perspectives on fire technology (spoiler: she’s a big fan of predictive modeling) and so many other topics that we couldn’t possibly list them all here. 

Here’s her NASA bio, which explains her background better than we ever possibly could: Dr. McCarty has more than 15 years’ experience in applications of Earth observations and geospatial and data science to accurately quantify wildland and human-caused fire management and emissions, agriculture and food security, climate change impacts and adaptation, and land-cover/land-use change. 

Quick note that this episode was recorded in August 2023, so there are a few things we spoke about that are maybe not exactly timely right now, but are nonetheless relevant to the ongoing conversation about wildfire resilience (for example, the tragedy in Lahaina and the, at that time, still ongoing fire season in Canada).

To learn more about Dr. McCarty’s background and research, check out her full NASA bio page. 

07:42 – Wildfire and Different Plant Species

09:05 – What Satellites Can and Cannot Tell Us

10:49 – The Lahaina Tragedy—Response, Fire/Management History on Maui

13:41 – Preparing To Deal With Fire and Building Resilience At Scale

17:06 – Invest In Being Good Neighbors

19:22 – Landscaping Choices as They Relate To Wildfire

20:43 – How We Can Thrive With Fire

22:41 – Why We Need More Prescribed Fire

24:49 – The Energy Grid As A Fire Risk

25:44 – New Emergency Notification System/Emergency Management Perspectives

27:59 – Agency Scientists Are Underutilized

30:12 – Emergency Management/Response and How It Can Save Lives

31:45 – Fire: Everybody’s Problem, Everybody’s Solution

33:08 – Fire Regimes in Boreal Forests

36:33 – Extreme Fire Year In Canada

38:28 -The Realities of Wildfire Evacuations

40:25 – The Arctic Council

44:43 – Closing

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