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Individual Highlight

Satellite-based Earth Observations Aid Fire Fighting and Fire Forecasting

Photo of A 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from the west in mid-wave infrared light by the satellite-based Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).  Brightness temperatures have been color coded according to the inset at lower left. W. Schroeder, University of MarylandA 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from the west in mid-wave infrared light by the satellite-based Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Brightness temperatures have been color coded according to the inset at lower left. W. Schroeder, University of MarylandSnapshot : The Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station, in association with multiple partners, has developed methods based on new sources of satellite data to provide near real-time fire mapping and measurement. These data also have been incorporated in a simulation model that includes weather forecasts to provide more realistic short-term predictions of fire spread and activity. These advances will greatly enhance the ability of firefighting agencies to identify and respond to wildland fires quickly, as well as to plan for upcoming fire seasons.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Riggan, Philip J. 
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 540

Summary

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.

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