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Subject:  Re: Wildfire tracking... Date:  12/13/2012  10:02 AM
Author:  LorenCobb Number:  39795 of 71094

jck: Did you play up the global warming part to increase your odds of funding?

Our grant application did not mention climate change, global warming, or any related concept. Our entire emphasis is on tracking the movement of the fire line, not on any broader scientific issues.

The subject of firestorms and global warming came up in the context of what we cannot do with current woodland fire models. I was trying to give the reporter an idea of the limits of our research program. Despite the interest of the reporter, firestorms and the influence of global warming are completely beyond our scope, and we did not propose to address these subjects. They were never even mentioned, and properly so.

It may help to remember that this is not a grant in atmospheric physics, nor is it climate science. We are merely mathematicians, seeking funding from the math division of NSF. Perhaps it may help to present our project summary here. The core idea of the proposal is in the second paragraph below.

Intellectual merit. This project will develop new methods for data-driven scientific computing. These methods will build on the principles of statistical data assimilation, which adjusts the state of a model in response to new data, while the model is running. Related methods are used in artificial intelligence, such as robotic vision, and many other areas. New methods for the estimation of the model state covariance, accelerated by the use of wavelets, will allow the treatment of large problems with many millions of variables on a laptop instead of a supercomputer. The new methodologies exploit the synergy of theory of random fields in spatial statistics with the power of Bayesian modeling and spectral analysis. The basic approach is that of ensembles, which are collections of independent simulations, which approximate t