2018 News and Updates

December 7, 2018
Photo of Hurricane Florence from the ISS
When disasters occur, our researchers become providers and distributors of images, data, and damage assessments. The Disasters team and network of partners and volunteers assist with hazard assessment, evaluation of severity, and identification of impacts near vulnerable infrastructure, crops, and lifelines especially in remote areas where observations are sparse to provide guidance for action.


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.


December 1, 2018
The circles in Fig. 2 indicate the data uncertainty range; signals beyond the circles are meaningful. 
The circles in Fig. 2 indicate the data uncertainty range; signals beyond the circles are meaningful.  On November 30, 2018 a magnitude 7 earthquake occurred near Anchorage, Alaska cracking buildings, damaging roads and buckling bridges. Over 4,500 structures were destroyed in the event. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) / NOAA tsunami detection prototype generated many real-time results during the Alaska event. Results from the warning system were generated and forwarded to Tsunami Warning Centers. The Alaska event demonstrated that JPL’s tsunami detection system performs well for detecting potential tsunamis.


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 southern California. The high levels of carbon monoxide west of Mexico may be an aged part of the Woolsey / Camp fire plumes, based on the location of high carbon monoxide the day before and on the smoke trajectories shown by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) visible images.  For more information please visit: https://www2.acom.ucar.edu/mopitt To access this data please visit:  https://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/project/mopitt/mopitt_table and https://earthdata.nasa.gov/earth-observation-data/near-real-time/downloa....


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 9th, 2018 VIIRS Near Real-Time Fires and Thermal Anomalies product from NASA LANCE. November 10th, 2018 VIIRS Near Real-Time Fires and Thermal Anomalies product from NASA LANCE.


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 California and The Woolsey Fire in Southern California. These images are called Damage Proxy Maps. The yellow and red spots show changes to the grounds surface, with red indicating more severe fire damage. "Although the maps may be less reliable over vegetated terrain, like farmland, they can help officials and first responders identify heavily damaged areas and allocate resources as needed," NASA says. The Camp Fire north of Sacramento wiped out the town of Paradise and is responsible for at least 48 deaths, making it the deadliest in the state's history. The Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles has claimed at least two lives and burned through the community of Malibu, claiming the famous Paramount Ranch movie set in the process. 


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 the Camp fire.  Over 52,000 people have been evacuated due to the Camp Fire in over 1,300 shelters.  To date the blaze is only 30% contained. Extremely dry fuels from on-going drought conditions in California remain coupled with rugged terrain and these two issues are presenting firefighters with challenging conditions.  Dry conditions with high winds contribute to massive and fast fire growth. Presently the high winds have abated and fire growth has slowed. Responders from across the country have joined the effort from Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska. Last night firefighters continued to hold established containment lines. Firefighters actively fought the fire and worked aggressively providing structure protection.  Crews will continue to provide structure protection throughout daytime operations. Firefighters will work to put direct and indirect fire lines in while scouting and putting in contingency lines ahead of the fire. Many risks and hazards along with steep terrain in some areas will impede firefighting efforts.  The forecast calls for continued low relative humidity and the dry fuel combined with steep rugged terrain will continue to impede efforts.


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 Suomi NPP and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder (CALIPSO), flying within 30 minutes from each other have been used to investigate smoke plumes on November 10, 2018. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) radiometer on the NPP satellite captured an image of the smoke coming from the Camp Fire in California and spreading across the Pacific Ocean. The CALIPSO space-borne lidar is used to profile the smoke. Elevated smoke layers up to 3-4 km are observed by the CALIPSO lidar across the Pacific Ocean (area 1 on the figure), while smoke near the source region over the San Francisco Bay area seems to remain near the ground between 0-2 km. Smoke caped near the ground worsens air quality and poses serious risk to public health. The NASA Disasters Program is working on providing satellite information to end-users to improve air quality forecasts.  


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 location of a fire in a timely manner. 


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 images were taken before (November 5, 2018) and the post-event image was acquired during the fire (November 11, 2018). The map covers an area of 50 miles x 25 miles (80 km x 40 km). Each pixel measures about 33 yards x 33 yards (30 m x 30 m). The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant ground surface change. Preliminary validation was done by comparing to the Approximate fire location by the Google Crisis map. This damage proxy map should be used as guidance to identify damaged areas, and may be less reliable over vegetated areas. For example, the scattered single colored pixels over vegetated areas may be false positives, and the lack of colored pixels over vegetated areas does not necessarily mean no damage.