Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA satellite data aid United Nations' ability to detect global fire hotspots

09.09.2010
In the midst of a difficult fire season in many parts of the world, the United Nations' (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization has launched a new online fire detection system that will help firefighters and natural hazards managers improve response time and resource management.

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
NASA's Earth Science News Team

Gretchen Cook-Anderson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/hotspots_prt.htm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

nachricht Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>