UNM professor developing way to map burn scars

Eddie Garcia
August 17, 2016 07:01 PM

The devastating loss of the Dixon Apple Orchard a few years ago was due to a massive flood from the Las Conchas fire burn scar. The owners had no choice but to shut down their business.


To deal with situations like that Christopher Lippitt, the UNM assistant professor in geography and environmental studies, is developing a sophisticated camera scanning system which will be mounted on aircraft allowing scientists to create a computer-generated 3D map of burn scarred terrain.

From there, the Army Corps of Engineers can use the map to pinpoint where to put up barricades.

“We’re talking about preventing those large debris flows that happen when you get the combination of fire followed by rain,” Lippitt said.

He data from these 3D maps could even save lives as well as property.

“It’s possible that this could’ve saved Dixon Apple Orchard,” Lippitt said.

The system is now being tested on the most active New Mexico burn scars.

“We can’t stop the rain. We can just hopefully stop some the soil that comes with it," Lippitt said.


Eddie Garcia

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