The Global Fire Information Management System (GFIMS) delivers fire data from an imaging sensor aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites to generate daily fire maps and images through a freely accessible Web interface. The system also dispatches detailed email alerts of the quantity and coordinates of fires, and it does so less than three hours after a satellite passes over burning land.
"Man has been harnessing fire since prehistory. In fact, some refer to humans as the fire species," said program scientist Woody Turner of NASA's Headquarters in Washington who oversaw funding for the system's development. "But now we've got a daily overview of large fires around the world, enabling us to manage fire—and our uses of fire—better."
At the heart of the new capability is NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument that scans the entire planet from north to south poles every 1-2 days and relays remotely sensed fire data to NASA's MODIS Rapid Response team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
MODIS looks for characteristic signatures of fire based on brightness temperature from thermal radiation given off by flames, eliminates false detections of other hot areas that may be deserts or sunglint with different degrees of brightness, and flags image pixels that confirm an active fire. The team then processes data into photo-quality images of active fires.
"When I worked at Etosha National Park in Namibia -- before the MODIS imager existed – we had to painstakingly process satellite data manually, which took many hours on some days," said Diane Davies, a University of Maryland – College Park researcher and former principal investigator for the system. The time-consuming process often led to inefficient deployment of fire and rescue resources and inconsistent communications between officials.
With funding from NASA's Applied Sciences Program, scientists at the University of Maryland-College Park began developing the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) in 2006 to test whether they could quickly convert satellite snapshots of wildfires into user-friendly formats.
The system combines images with Geographical Information Systems (commonly called GIS) technology to distribute fire hotspot email alerts and other products -- downloadable fire images; fire locations that can be overlaid on Google Earth maps; customizable interactive fire mapping where users can bookmark locations of fire interest; and maps from NASA's own Google Earth-like World Wind plug-in -- to organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization as well as Conservation International.
Beyond the scope of its precursor's capability, the new UN detection system also provides country-specific reports. "Having this kind of information served up to us in an email every day is a huge advance," said Davies. The new GFIMS Web tool was officially launched on August 12, though many people have been accessing MODIS fire data through the University of Maryland's prototype FIRMS system for over a year. More than 29,000 visitors found the site on Aug. 9 alone, seeking information on the wildfires burning through more than 300 square miles of Russia's landscape.
When fires burn, smoke plumes carrying carbon monoxide and other tiny polluted particles can span hundreds of miles across populated areas. The plume in Russia, in fact, ran 1,860 miles from east to west last month. Eager to understand better the nature of fires, scientists are already putting the UN's system to use researching regional fires like Russia's and trends associated with climate change.
"Knowing how many fires are in an area during any 24-hour period and their coordinates is absolutely invaluable in saving lives, farms and homes, especially in remote places," said Turner. "The fact that the system also helps us document fires for research purposes is an added benefit."
The new FAO site includes information in English, French and Spanish, with other languages on the horizon in the months to come. Davies also expects to add maps and alerts of previously burned areas this fall, in addition to locations experiencing active fires.Written by:
Gretchen Cook-Anderson | EurekAlert!
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University
New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research