March 2024 A Bayesian spatio-temporal level set dynamic model and application to fire front propagation
Myungsoo Yoo, Christopher K. Wikle
Author Affiliations +
Ann. Appl. Stat. 18(1): 404-423 (March 2024). DOI: 10.1214/23-AOAS1794


Intense wildfires impact nature, humans, and society, causing catastrophic damage to property and the ecosystem as well as the loss of life. Forecasting wildfire front propagation and understanding the behavior of wildfire propagation within a formal uncertainty quantification framework are essential in order to support fire fighting efforts and plan evacuations. The level set method has been widely used to analyze the change in surfaces, shapes, and boundaries. In particular, a signed distance function used in level set methods can readily be interpreted to represent complicated boundaries and their changes in time. While there is substantial literature on the level set method in wildfire applications, these implementations have relied on a heavily-parameterized formula for the rate of spread. These implementations have not typically considered uncertainty quantification, incorporated data-driven learning, nor summarized the effect of the environmental covariates. Here we present a Bayesian spatio-temporal dynamic model, based on level sets, which can be utilized for inference and forecasting the boundary of interest in the presence of uncertain data and lack of knowledge about the boundary velocity. The methodology relies on both a mechanistically-motivated dynamic model for level sets and a stochastic spatio-temporal dynamic model for the front velocity. We show the effectiveness of our method via simulation and with forecasting the fire front boundary evolution of two classic California megafires—the 2017–2018 Thomas fire and the 2017 Haypress fire.

Funding Statement

This research was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grant SES-1853096 and Contract ID: 00076979 from the Mayo Clinic.


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Myungsoo Yoo. Christopher K. Wikle. "A Bayesian spatio-temporal level set dynamic model and application to fire front propagation." Ann. Appl. Stat. 18 (1) 404 - 423, March 2024.


Received: 1 February 2023; Revised: 1 June 2023; Published: March 2024
First available in Project Euclid: 31 January 2024

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/23-AOAS1794

Keywords: Boundary , level set method , signed distance function , Wildfire

Rights: Copyright © 2024 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


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Vol.18 • No. 1 • March 2024
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