Satellite-based Earth Observations Aid Fire Fighting and Fire Forecasting
New satellite-based earth observations are being developed and applied to provide near real-time fire mapping and measurement for tactical fire operations and strategic fire planning. The project is supported by a grant from the NASA wildfire applications program with participation by scientists and technologists from the University of Maryland; the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station, Washington Office, and Remote Sensing Applications Center; the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and the German Aerospace Center. Fire-mapping products incorporate at least twice daily observations at 375-meter resolution that have been acquired by the new NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite together with occasional higher-resolution observations of active fires by Landsat and Landsat-class sensors. The application is especially valuable for monitoring the growth of very large wildland fires, such as the 2013 Rim Fire in California, which are monitored with greater difficulty and expense by airborne resources, and for monitoring the relative activity of fires across large regions. Work during fiscal year 2013 developed fire detection algorithms and systems for data dissemination and display, demonstrated mapping products as applied to large fires in California and Colorado, and showed feasibility and usefulness of the remote-sensing data products. The project is also assimilating remote-sensing data into an advanced computational model of the interactions of fire behavior and energy release with atmospheric motions and processes. The new approach enables simulation of long-duration fire events by frequently updating the fire simulation with remotely sensed fire-line locations.