Fires

Overview

Wildland fire research and applications spans across multiple NASA programs, and fire itself, is an integral natural process that acts to maintain ecosystem biodiversity and structure.  Wildland fire, which includes any non-structure fire that occurs in vegetation or natural fuels, is an essential process that connects terrestrial systems to the atmosphere and climate.  However, the effects of fire can be disastrous, both immediately (e.g., poor air quality, loss of life and property) and through post-fire impacts (floods, debris flows/landslides, poor water quality).

Burning forest fire. Image Credit: Conard

Image Credit: Conard

NASA Earth observations and models are used to support pre-, active- and post-fire research, as well as the applicable use of these data and products in support of management decisions and strategies, policy planning and in setting rules and regulations.  A few examples are provided below that highlight NASA capabilities and our ability to engage partners and provide information to stakeholder communities.  

Active Fire Assessment

Working with NASA research and applied communities, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS), an enhanced active fire detection (Thermal Anomaly) algorithm and product was developed and is in use operationally.  These new data are derived using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite.  These enhanced data products provide higher spatial resolution and are publically available worldwide: https://lance.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/

The USFS and NASA work closely to ensure data are quickly available for regional planning, fire identification and model initialization.  Summarized satellite and fire data that are applicable to fire management communities are available through the USFS websitehttp://www.fs.fed.us/eng/rsac/

Disaster Mitigation

Through the NASA Applied Science Program Wildland Fires, Principle Investigators and their teams have rapidly responded to numerous national and international fire events to provide information critical to disaster mitigation.  For example, the Fort Mc Murray fire burned in Alberta, Canada from 1 May to 5 July 2016 and consumed 607,028 hectares (6,070 km^2).  The fire forced more than 80,000 people from their homes, and it is the costliest disaster in Canadian history (estimated $3.58 billion).

Tracing smoke: Implications for air quality, health and climate

NASA data are capable of viewing a slice of smoke through the atmosphere and tracking these smoke-laden emissions around the Earth.  With this type of lidar data, we are able to accurately estimate the height of smoke; this is significant because smoke travels faster at higher altitudes.  With this information, we are able to provide accurate air quality warnings.

Tools & Resources

  • NASA Wildfires Program
  • Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS): The Global Wildfire Information System is a joint initiative of the GEO and the Copernicus Work Programs. The Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) aims at bringing together existing information sources at regional and national level in order to provide a comprehensive view and evaluation of fire regimes and fire effects at global level.
  • Global Fire Weather Database (GFWED): The Global Fire WEather Database (GFWED) integrates different weather factors influencing the likelihood of a vegetation fire starting and spreading. It is based on the Fire Weather Index (FWI) System, the most widely used fire weather system in the world. 
  • FirecastA tool by Conservation International, Firecast uses satellite observations to track ecosystem disturbances such as fires, fire risk conditions, deforestation, and protected area encroachment, and delivers this time-sensitive information to decision makers through email alerts, maps, and reports.

 

Latest Updates

July 26, 2019
These highlights from the MISR Active Aerosol Plume-Height (AAP) Project  show smoke heights from the Bearnose Hill and Shovel Creek fires in Alaska on July 6th, 2019.
These images compiled by NASA’s Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) Active Aerosol Plume-Height Project illustrate smoke heights from the Bearnose Hill and Shovel Creek fires in Alaska on July 6. MISR’s stereo texture and color images enable accurate mapping of wildfire smoke-plume heights, distinguishing smoke plumes from clouds based on detected particle properties. On July 6 and 8, MISR observed multiple fire plumes emanating from a wildfire outbreak across Alaska. Imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on July 6 shows dense smoke from the...
July 25, 2019
Screenshot of the IMERG Alaska wildfires visualization.
NASA’s satellite-based estimates of global precipitation can provide valuable information to officials monitoring the many wildfires that have been scorching Alaska this summer. Although wildfires regularly occur every Alaskan summer, July 2019 proved a particularly active month. Few rain gauges exist in the remote expanses of Alaskan wilderness, but wildfires unchecked can spread to populated areas within the state. Satellite-based precipitation estimates are therefore particularly valuable because of precipitation's relationship to wildfire hazard. The embedded video, above, shows data...
December 6, 2018
UAVSAR image overlaid a Googe Earth Map. Credit: Andrea Donnellan, NASA JPL, Google Earth, UAVSAR
UAVSAR image overlaid a Googe Earth Map. The red borders are fire extent from the Woolsey Fire in California.  NASA deployed a research aircraft on Nov. 15 for a nighttime flight over the California Woolsey Fire. The NASA C-20 aircraft carried sensors to map the fire scar, with a goal of identifying areas at risk of catastrophic mudslides in the coming winter rains. The aircraft took off from its base at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, carrying the Uninhabited...
November 10, 2018
Images showing smoke plume data from California Wildfires
The recent catastrophic fires in California have yielded scenes of chaos in the region and the NASA Disasters program is working on providing the most recent satellite information that could help people on the ground. Dispersed smoke through the region has serious impacts on air quality and satellite information can bring several perspectives of smoke layers that are released into the atmosphere. Two satellites, the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or...
November 15, 2018
The Measurement of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument is flying on board NASA's Terra satellite. It observes Carbon Monoxide (CO) in the troposphere through thermal and near infrared channels. This product was created by the MOPITT Near-Real Time system on Saturday November 10, 2018 and submitted to NASA Worldview. The images clearly show enhanced levels of carbon monoxide associated with the Camp and Woolsey wildfires in northern and...
November 14, 2018
November 12th, 2018 VIIRS Near Real-Time Fires and Thermal Anomalies product from NASA LANCE.
The images below show the California wildfires located by NASA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Near Real-Time Fires and Thermal Anomalies product (in red points) from the Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE). The map of California was provided through VIIRS true color imagery via NASA Worldview from November 9 - 12, 2018. The images show the extent of the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire burning in California. The red outlines with smoke indicate areas of active fire....
November 13, 2018
This image from NASA Worldview shows smoke from the California Camp Fire as seen by the AQUA satellite's MODIS instrument. Credits: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).
The six-day-old Camp Fire has already attained the unfortunate title of California's deadliest fire. The Camp Fire has already led to 42 deaths with a number of residents still unaccounted for. It is also the most destructive in California history as well with over 7,000 structures destroyed by the blaze. The fire began on Nov. 08, 2018 and has grown to a staggering 125,000 acres in just under a week. The cause of this blaze is still under investigation. California state regulators are investigating two utility companies that reported incidents close in time and location to the start of...
November 13, 2018
NASA's ARIA team created this Damage Proxy Map showing the impact of the Camp Fire in Northern California. The white rectangle shows a closer view of the town of Paradise.  NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA
NASA's ARIA team created this Damage Proxy Map showing the impact of the Camp Fire in Northern California. The white rectangle shows a closer view of the town of Paradise. This image was created by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team, using data provided by the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA Monday, November 12, NASA shared enhanced satellite map images featured above of the Camp Fire in Northern...
November 13, 2018
NASA FIRMS Near-Real Time Data 
NASA FIRMS Near-Real Time Data  NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) distributes Near Real-Time (NRT) active fire data within three hours of satellite overpass from both the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Natural Resource Managers need to know where a fire is quickly to be able to prepare for and respond to a wildfire event. NASA FIRMS NRT helps to visualize the...
November 13, 2018
Camp Fire ARIA DPM 
Camp Fire ARIA DPM  The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas of Southern Cailfornia that are likely damaged (shown by red and yellow pixels) as a result of the Camp Fire in Northern California. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency (...
November 13, 2018
Woolsey Fire ARIA DPM 
Woolsey Fire ARIA DPM  The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas of Southern Cailfornia that are likely damaged (shown by red and yellow pixels) as a result of the Woolsey Fire. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). The pre-event...
November 11, 2018
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured the natural-color image above on November 9.
The Operational Land Imager on USGS/NASA Landsat 8 acquired this image on November 8, 2018, around 10:45 a.m. local time (18:45 Universal Time).   On November 8, 2018, the Camp Fire erupted 90 miles (140 kilometers) north of Sacramento, California. As of 10 a.m. Pacific...
November 11, 2018
ARIA's Damage Proxy Map shows areas damaged by the Woolsey Fire in California.
The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas of Southern Cailfornia that are likely damaged (shown by red and yellow pixels) as a result of the Woolsey Fire in California. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). The pre-event images were taken before...
August 9, 2018
False color RGB images of the Mendecino Complex fires from the ER-2 MASTER sensor, collected on 8/9/18. 
False color RGB image of the Mendocino Complex fires from ER-2's MASTER sensor, collected on 8/9/18.  The ER-2 aircraft carrying the MASTER (the NASA MODIS/ASTER) sensor flew over Mendocino Complex Fires on August 9, 2018. The sensor captured images of both fires in the area with the Ranch Fire on the north side of Clear Lake and the River Fire on the south side. The products are false color RGB composites, which allow for the identification of various features within the...
August 6, 2018
These collections of visible-wavelength (RGB) digital camera images were taken by astronauts onboard the International Space Station on August 2-4, 2018, then manually georeferenced by members of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA Johnson Space Center The images provide regional context, and may be useful for visualization of the ongoing event. Higher spatial resolution images may be suitable for spatial analysis to support decision...
August 6, 2018
Aqua MODIS data acquired August 2nd, 2018. 
Aqua MODIS natural color image acquired August 2nd, 2018. Aqua MODIS false color image acquired August 2nd, 2018.  Wildfires continue to rage in Northern California and other parts of the American West. Thousands of firefighters are battling fires fueled by hot, mostly dry weather and strong winds. On August 2, 2018, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ...
December 11, 2017
Acquired December 5-7th, 2017
Acquired December 5-7th, 2017 This data was acquired by the ”Classic” Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-C) instrument on December 5-7th. This is an instrument that flies on NASA Armstrong Flight Center’s high altitude ER-2 aircraft. It observes light in visible and infrared wavelengths, measuring the full spectrum of radiated energy. Unlike regular cameras with three colors, AVIRIS-C has 224 channels from the visible through the shortwave infrared, which provides a...
December 14, 2017
Damage Proxy Map for Southern California Fire.
Graphic produced December 13, 2017 with imagery acquired 11/28/17 & 12/10/17 The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, also in Pasadena, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas in Southern California, including Ventura, that are likely damaged (shown by red and yellow pixels) as a result of wildfires. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images...
October 27, 2017
PolSAR Mosaic Image
UAVSAR aboard the NASA502 aircraft imaged Napa County, California on October 16 to observe areas affected by several wildfires that started on October 8 and burned thousands of buildings as well as vineyards and forests. PolSAR mosaick of HH, HV, VV polarization overlay images. The fire perimeters (red) are from the USGS Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination website as of October 17.   The fires from north to south are: Pocket, Tubbs, Nunn, and Atlas respectively.....
October 25, 2017
NASA's Terra Satellite Image
As firefighters continue to work toward full containment of the rash of wildfires burning in Northern California. This image from NASA's Terra Satellite acquired on Oct. 21, 2017, shows the growing fire scar on the landscape. As firefighters continue to work toward full containment of the rash of wildfires burning in Northern California, a new image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite shows the growing fire scar on...

Pages