Dr. Dan Thompson

Image Dan Thompson
Forest Fire Research Scientist

Dr. Dan Thompson has worked as a wildfire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service since 2011, and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Renewable Resources since 2013.  His research is focused on boreal wildfire spread and impacts using an environmental physics framework.  He is a member of the Canadian Forest Service Fire Danger Rating Group, tasked with revising and updating Canada’s operational wildfire prediction models.

Dan is the science co-lead for the Pelican Mountain experimental fire project, funded by Alberta Wildfire Management Branch out of Wabasca, Alberta.  The project has yielded two large experimental crown fires (2015 and 2019) and numerous smaller experimental fires to investigate fuel treatment impacts on fire behaviour and associated ecological impacts.

Dan is the Applications Lead for the WildFireSat mission, a Canadian wildfire monitoring satellite mission, set to launch in 2024-25. 

His interest in the application of his research and wildfire science overall extends to his training and designation as a nationally-certified Fire Behaviour Analyst, where he provides numerical projections of fire behaviour and spread to Incident Management Teams from fire management agencies. Notable deployments include Fort McMurray 2016, Kamloops, British Columbia 2017, and Prince Albert National Park 2018.

Current research and/or projects

I am a research scientist in the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, and specialize in the hydrology of disturbed landscapes, including fire and reclaimed oil sands mining sites. 

Research and/or project statements

Working on soil-vegetation-water relationships in upland reclamation environments with Brad Pinno at the CNRL Horizon site.

Professional activities / interests

Training Working Group Member, Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

Advisory Board Member, FPInnovations, Wildfire Operations Research Group.

Education and awards


Ph.D. in Hydrological Sciences, McMaster University, 2012.

H.B.Sc in Earth and Environmental Sciences, McMaster University, 2006.


Outstanding Reviewer 2014, Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

Northern Scientific Training Program summer student grant, Commission canadienne des affaires polaires, 2009.

Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship, NSERC, 2008.

Post-graduate Scholarship - M, NSERC, 2006.

Key publications

  1. Thompson, D.K.; Simpson, B.N.; Beaudoin, A. 2016. Using forest structure to predict the distribution of forested boreal peatlands in Canada. Forest Ecology and Management. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2016.03.056.
  2. Thompson, D.K.; Schiks, T.J.; Wotton, B.M. 2016. Fuel size impacts on carbon residuals and combustion dynamics in masticated woody debris. Forest Ecology and Management. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2016.03.029.
  3. Thompson, D.K., Studens, J. Krezek-Hanes, C., Wotton, B.M. 2015. The impact of root exclusion on duff moisture and fire danger. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 45: 978-986. doi:10.1139/cjfr-2014-0397.
  4. Schiks, T.J., Thompson, D.K. Wotton, B.M. 2015. Short-term effects of mastication on fuel moisture and thermal regime of boreal fuel beds. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 45: 867-876. doi:10.1139/cjfr-2014-0431.
  5. Thompson, D.K.; Baisley, A.S.; Waddington, J.M. 2015. Seasonal variation in albedo and radiation exchange between a burned and unburned forested peatland: implications for peatland evaporation. Hydrological Processes 14: 3227–3235. doi:10.1002/hyp.10436.


Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta and Researcher in the Western Partnership for Wildland Fire Science.

Research Associate with the Fire Management Systems Laboratory, University of Toronto.