Earth  ID: 5051

Drought conditions set the stage for an intense fire season in California in 2021

The 2021 wildfire season in California started amid an ongoing drought and historically low rainfall and reservoir levels. By August, seasonal deficits of rainfall result in anomalously dry soils in large parts of the Western US. Eventually, the vegetation dries out as the roots can’t provide moisture to meet atmospheric demand. This vegetation stress is captured by thermal imaging satellites and by the model as reduced plant growth.

Visualization Credits

Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Lead Visualizer
Michala Garrison (SSAI): Visualizer
Sujay Kumar (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Chris Hain (NASA/MSFC): Scientist
Timothy Lahmers (UMD): Scientist
Elijah Orland (UMBC): Scientist
Thomas Holmes (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Forrest Melton (California State University, Monterey Bay): Scientist
Kim Locke (SAIC): Producer
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Data Used:
GTOPO30 Topography and Bathymetry
Data Compilation - USGS
GPM/Rainfall anomaly for Aug 2021
Data Compilation
Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) V06 Precipitation downscaled to 1 km within LIS model
also referred to as: Rootzone Soil moisture Anomaly August 14, 2021
Data Compilation
Anomaly in Rootzone soil moisture based on 20-year record from 1-km LIS-model run, after assimilation of downscaled SMAP surface moisture product (THySM: Thermal Hydraulic disaggregation of SMAP Soil Moisture).
also referred to as: Evaporative Stress Index (12-weeks) on August 13, 2021
Observed Data
Atmosphere-Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) generated by the NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT), based on MODIS-based thermal infrared observations
Anderson, Martha C., John M. Norman, John R. Mecikalski, Jason A. Otkin, and William P. Kustas. "A climatological study of evapotranspiration and moisture stress across the continental United States based on thermal remote sensing: 2. Surface moisture climatology." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 112, no. D11 (2007).
also referred to as: Anomaly in Gross Primary Production, August 2021
Anomaly in Gross Primary Production based on 20-year record from LIS-model run
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

DLESE >> Atmospheric science
SVS >> Drought
SVS >> Fire Management
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Climate Indicators >> Drought Indices
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Precipitation >> Precipitation Anomalies
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Ecological Dynamics >> Fire Characteristics
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Firefly
NASA Science >> Earth
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Climate Indicators >> Land Surface/agriculture Indicators >> Fire Weather Index

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version