Climate and Wildfire Institute at UCLA

Wildfire California Santa Clarita

Wildfires are burning with increasing frequency, ferocity, and unpredictability.

The worsening climate and wildfire crisis in California and beyond urgently requires decisive, coordinated action. The state of California has invested millions to create the California Wildfire Institute and considers UCLA—which played a leadership role in its creation—an indispensable partner in the statewide effort.

As such, the UCLA seeks the partnership of visionary philanthropists who understand the urgency of investing in coordinated, science-based solutions to this enormous challenge. UCLA will be the statewide organization’s first formal university partner. The CWI@UCLA, under the leadership of Professor Alex Hall, is envisioned as the premier Southern California research hub dedicated to developing and implementing science-based approaches to the region’s distinct challenges and solutions related to wildfire and climate. Capitalizing on its leadership, world-class expertise, collaborative network and partnership with CWI, UCLA is poised to launch CWI@UCLA.

Leveraging the incredible breadth and depth of relevant knowledge at UCLA, the CWI@UCLA will bring together experts, policymakers and community leaders to inform new policies and practices that can be applied effectively and rapidly, with implications and benefits for other at-risk areas around the world. Among the center’s ambitious goals are developing a wildfire modeling prediction system that continuously produces maps of future fire risks; building climate, ecological and fire models that monitor changing conditions; and incorporating the monitoring of harmful smoke emissions. CWI@UCLA will leverage UCLA’s existing portfolio of world-class expertise across the landscape of environmental modeling. This encompasses expertise in models of the climate, ocean, air quality, forests and ecosystems, as well as wildfire behavior. The result will be a full service climate and wildfire modeling and prediction system unlike any other in terms of flexibility, sophistication and accuracy at local and regional scales.

The increasing threat of climate change and wildfire on California’s diverse and, in many cases, threatened ecosystems—from the forests of the Sierra Nevada to the chaparral of the San Gabriel Mountains–demands a targeted and collaborative approach.  This approach will require deep engagement of communities and cross-sector leaders to identify and prioritize needs, then rallying experts at leading institutions across the world in a collaborative, focused, and impactful way. 

CWI@UCLA will identify critical research gaps, and then deliver groundbreaking research that is of value to stakeholders.

CWI@UCLA moves beyond existing science at an accelerated pace and become the go-to source of high-quality science and technology related to landscape resilience and predictive tools.

Its primary research goals are:

  1. Advance climate science, wildfire and air quality modeling in service of wildfire prediction
  2. Develop solutions-oriented scientific research outcomes that translate into policy guidance related to climate and wildfire
  3. Produce impactful research that provides direct benefits to our local communities, demonstrating lessons learned and best practices for other regions

For CWI to accomplish its goals, there will have to be sustained collaboration and communication between researchers and stakeholders to define research priorities and continuously deliver research that can be applied in real-world scenarios. 

  • CWI@UCLA will take the lead in aggregating and coordinating the research community to nourish an inter-institutional, interdisciplinary research culture. The members of this community will be committed to producing societally impactful knowledge, and making sure it’s understood by policymakers. 
  • CWI@UCLA will be situated as a hub at the center of a collaborative network, bringing together experts from leading institutions across the world through collaborative projects, programming and events.

As the nation’s top public research university, UCLA is a leader in graduate and post-graduate education training the next generation of master environmental problem solvers.

  • CWI@UCLA will leverage UCLA’S internationally recognized educational programs and CWI’s deep connections to external practitioners and stakeholders to create unparalleled training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Spanning a range of scientific and policy areas, UCLA’s world-leading faculty have a long history of working collaboratively on related projects within and beyond the university. The CWI@UCLA brings together faculty from across campus including the Anderson School of Management, Fielding School of Public Health, Samueli School of Engineering, School of Law, the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Now is the time to take action, build on UCLA’s momentum achieved, and employ all possible resources to mitigate the wildfire crisis in Southern California and beyond.

To learn more about how you can have a direct impact on solution-oriented work regarding one of today’s most critical challenges, please contact Rachel Scott Foster at