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New Use of Remotely Sensed Data Help Map Daily Progression of Wildfires

Photo of In the left panel (a), the red points correspond to the locations of satellite fire detections and the thick black line represents a fire perimeter. Because we know the exact day that each of these points were burned by wildfire, we were able to generate a spatially continuous representation of the day of burning, and hence the fire progression, for this and other wildfires (b). Sean Parks, USDA Forest ServiceIn the left panel (a), the red points correspond to the locations of satellite fire detections and the thick black line represents a fire perimeter. Because we know the exact day that each of these points were burned by wildfire, we were able to generate a spatially continuous representation of the day of burning, and hence the fire progression, for this and other wildfires (b). Sean Parks, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Variable weather conditions have a dramatic influence on fire behavior and fire effects, but the influence of weather can be particularly difficult to evaluate because fires are not usually mapped on a daily basis. As such, it is difficult to associate weather with observed fire behavior or effects without knowing what day any given area has burned. Scientists with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute developed a new technique using existing remotely sensed data to map the daily progression of fires, thereby providing new opportunities to study the influence of weather on fire behavior and fire effects.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Parks, Sean A.  
Research Location : Missoula, MT
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 692

Summary

Scientists know that variable weather conditions have a dramatic influence on fire behavior and fire effects, but the influence of weather can be difficult to evaluate because current fire progression maps, which chart the perimeter of an actively burning fire, are rarely mapped on a daily basis. As such, it is difficult to associate weather with observed fire behavior or effects because it is not always known what day any given area has burned. Scientists with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute developed a new technique using an existing remotely sensed dataset to map the daily progression of fires. This technique provides new opportunities for studying the influence of weather on fire behavior and fire effects. The methods developed by these scientists provide a viable option for producing day-of-burning data where agency-generated fire progression maps are of poor quality or unavailable. Used in conjunction with data from weather stations, this method will help researchers from varied disciplines to evaluate the influence of observed daily weather on observed fire-related effects (e.g., smoke productions, carbon emissions, and burn severity) over large landscapes and over large numbers of fires. In fact, this method has already been successfully incorporated into other fire studies, including one that quantified the influence of weather on fire spread.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • The Leopold Institute was formally established in 1993 by the U.S. Forest Service and is administered by the agency's Rocky Mountain Research Station. It operates under a Memorandum of Understanding among the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.
 

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