Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Xiaolin Hu


Wildfires have significant impact on both ecosystems and human society. To effectively manage wildfires, simulation models are used to study and predict wildfire spread. The accuracy of wildfire spread simulations depends on many factors, including GIS data, fuel data, weather data, and high-fidelity wildfire behavior models. Unfortunately, due to the dynamic and complex nature of wildfire, it is impractical to obtain all these data with no error. Therefore, predictions from the simulation model will be different from what it is in a real wildfire. Without assimilating data from the real wildfire and dynamically adjusting the simulation, the difference between the simulation and the real wildfire is very likely to continuously grow. With the development of sensor technologies and the advance of computer infrastructure, dynamic data driven application systems (DDDAS) have become an active research area in recent years. In a DDDAS, data obtained from wireless sensors is fed into the simulation model to make predictions of the real system. This dynamic input is treated as the measurement to evaluate the output and adjust the states of the model, thus to improve simulation results. To improve the accuracy of wildfire spread simulations, we apply the concept of DDDAS to wildfire spread simulation by dynamically assimilating sensor data from real wildfires into the simulation model. The assimilation system relates the system model and the observation data of the true state, and uses analysis approaches to obtain state estimations. We employ Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) methods (also called particle filters) to carry out data assimilation in this work. Based on the structure of DDDAS, this dissertation presents the data assimilation system and data assimilation results in wildfire spread simulations. We carry out sensitivity analysis for different densities, frequencies, and qualities of sensor data, and quantify the effectiveness of SMC methods based on different measurement metrics. Furthermore, to improve simulation results, the image-morphing technique is introduced into the DDDAS for wildfire spread simulation.