Rosen, Cortez Masto Applaud Over $500,000 in NSF Grant Awarded to University of Nevada Reno

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) released the following statement applauding the National Science Foundation (NSF) for awarding a grant totaling $505,294.00 to the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) to improve air quality modeling and better address the threat of wildfires in the Western United States.
“Nevada is constantly on guard against the threat that wildfires pose to our state,” said the Senators. “We applaud NSF for awarding this grant to UNR for greater study of the movement patterns of harmful smoke from wildfires, and the human health effects it can have in our mountainous regions. We will continue working to ensure that Nevadans are provided with the most up-to-date safety measures to protect them from wildfires.”

BACKGROUND: The NSF grant will help fund a UNR research project, entitled “CAREER: Forecasting Impacts to Reduce Exposure to Smoke (FIRES) – Modeling wildfire smoke transport in the western U.S.”

Smoke from wildfires is harmful to humans and reducing smoke-related illnesses requires limiting outdoor work and other activities in areas impacted by fire. These areas of impact can extend several hundreds of miles away from the fire, thus accurate prediction is critical to protect human health.

Regional scale air models that simulate wildfire smoke transport have significant uncertainties over mountainous terrain due to the complexities of the atmospheric flows and difficulties in estimating smoke plume injection heights. To improve smoke plume forecasts there is a critical need to develop new models that reduce uncertainties associated with both meteorological conditions and emissions modeling. The aim of this research is to use a cross-disciplinary approach to improve our fundamental understanding of wildfire smoke plume dynamics and complex atmospheric flows governing smoke transport over mountainous terrain.

Earlier this year, Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service expressing concerns with the impact the government shutdown had on the Forest Services’ wildfire and forest health efforts.