Fires

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Visualizations

  • Active Fires As Observed by VIIRS, January-September 2021
    2021.10.01
    This visualization shows active fires as observed by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, between January 1 and September 24 2021. The VIIRS instrument flies on the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 polar-orbiting satellites. Instruments on polar orbiting satellites typically observe a wildfire at a given location a few times a day as they orbit the Earth from pole to pole. VIIRS detects hot spots at a resolution of 375 meters per pixel, which means it can detect smaller, lower temperature fires than other fire-observing satellites. Its observations are about three times more detailed than those from the MODIS instrument, for example. VIIRS also provides nighttime fire detection capabilities through its Day-Night Band, which can measure low-intensity visible light emitted by small and fledgling fires. This visualization uses data from the Suomi-NPP VIIRS instrument, and will be updated periodically until the end of 2021.
  • FIREX-AQ Prelaunch Data Visualization
    2019.07.18
    The FIREX-AQ mission will track fire emissions as they travel across the United States. Please visit the FIREX-AQ website for more information.
  • Carbon Emissions from Fires: 2003 - 2018
    2019.07.11
    This visualization shows carbon emissions from fires from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2018. The colorbar reflects the quantity of carbon emitted.
  • Mapping Fire Intensity (2000 through 2013)
    2013.08.08
    This visualization displays the MODIS Climate Modeling Grid (CMG) Mean Fire Radiative Power (FRP). The CMG fire products incorporate MODIS active fire data into gridded statistical summaries of fire pixel information intended for use in regional and global modeling. The products are currently generated at 0.5 degree spatial resolution. Many of the lower intensity fires shown in red were prescribed fires, lit for either agricultural or ecosystem management purposes. Orange indicates fires that were more intense with the most intense FRP being shown in yellow. Notice, many of the most intense fires occurred in higher latitudes.
  • Active Fires As Observed by VIIRS, 2020
    2021.04.08
    This visualization shows active fires as observed by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, during 2020. The VIIRS instrument flies on the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 polar-orbiting satellites. Instruments on polar orbiting satellites typically observe a wildfire at a given location a few times a day as they orbit the Earth from pole to pole. VIIRS detects hot spots at a resolution of 375 meters per pixel, which means it can detect smaller, lower temperature fires than other fire-observing satellites. Its observations are about three times more detailed than those from the MODIS instrument, for example. VIIRS also provides nighttime fire detection capabilities through its Day-Night Band, which can measure low-intensity visible light emitted by small and fledgling fires.
  • 2013 Rim Fire
    2020.02.12
    The winter of 2012–2013 was among the driest on record for California, setting the stage for an active fire season in the summer of 2013. At the time, the Rim Fire was the third largest in California since record-keeping began in 1932. The VIIRS DNB on the Suomi NPP satellite tracked the growth of the fire between August 20 and September 4, 2013. The brightest, most intense parts of the fire glow white. Pale gray smoke streams away, generally to the north. Thin clouds obscured the view on September 1. On August 20, the Moon was full, so the landscape reflected a large amount of moonlight. The background grew progressively darker as the new Moon approached on September 5. The perimeter of the fire changed along different fronts from day to day, depending on winds and firefighting efforts. On August 24, firefighters focused on containing the western edge of the fire to prevent it from burning into Tuolumne City and the populated Highway 108 corridor. They also fought the eastern edge of the fire to protect Yosemite National Park (outlined in yellow). These efforts are evident in the images: Between August 23 and 24, the eastern edge held steady, the western edge receded, and the fire grew in the southeast. On the morning of August 25, 2013, fire managers reported that the blaze was growing in the north and east. With the fire burning aggressively and moving east into Yosemite, August 26 and 27 proved challenging days for firefighters. But over the next few days, they began to gain control after a series of burnout operations along the fire’s northern and eastern edges. On August 29, the evacuation advisory for Tuolumne City was lifted. The southeastern flank continued to burn intensely into the first week of September. Earth Observatory: Progression of the Rim Fire at Night
  • Fires Light Up Mount Vesuvius
    2020.02.12
    The forest preserve on Mount Vesuvius normally keeps the Italian mountain shrouded in darkness when viewed in nighttime photographs by astronauts or in satellite images of Naples. However, that was not the case on July 12, 2017, when the VIIRS DNB on Suomi NPP captured an image of wildfires lighting up the slopes of the volcano (middle). For comparison, the July 9, 2017, image was taken before the fires began (left). The July fires burned much of the woodlands in Vesuvius National Park, which was established in 1995. The park protects more than 600 types of plants, 100 species of birds, and many small mammals and reptiles. Mount Vesuvius is best known for a catastrophic eruption in 79 A.D. that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Its last major eruption occurred in 1944. For comparison, the MODIS instrument captured the daylight image (right) of the fires (red dots) on July 12. Note how the extent of Naples and the area around the volcano are less clearly defined.
  • Global Transport of Smoke from Australian Bushfires
    2020.03.30
    This visualization shows the global distribution of aerosols, generated by NASA’s GEOS-FP data assimilation system, from August 1, 2019 to January 14,2020—capturing the aerosols released by the extreme bushfires in Australia in December 2019 and January 2020 and how they are transported around the globe over the South Pacific Ocean. Different aerosol species are highlighted by color, including dust (orange), sea-salt (blue), nitrates (pink), sulfates (green), and carbon (red), with brighter regions corresponding to higher aerosol amounts. NASA's MODIS observations constrain regions with biomass burning as well as the aerosol optical depths in GEOS, capturing the prominent bushfires in Australia and transport of emitted aerosols well downstream over the South Pacific Ocean. Weather events including Hurricane Dorian in August – September 2019 and other tropical cyclones around the world, along with major fire events in South America and Indonesia in August - September 2019 are also shown. The local impacts of the Australian bushfires have been devastating to property and life in Australia while producing extreme air quality impacts throughout the region. As smoke from the massive fires has interacted with the global weather, the transport of smoke plumes around the global have accelerated through deep vertical transport into the upper troposphere and even the lowermost stratosphere, leading to long-range transport around the globe.
  • 2017 Hurricanes and Aerosols Simulation
    2021.05.05
    Tracking the aerosols carried on the winds let scientists see the currents in our atmosphere. This visualization follows sea salt, dust, and smoke from July 31 to November 1, 2017, to reveal how these particles are transported across the map.

    The first thing that is noticeable is how far the particles can travel. Smoke from fires in the Pacific Northwest gets caught in a weather pattern and pulled all the way across the US and over to Europe. Hurricanes form off the coast of Africa and travel across the Atlantic to make landfall in the United States. Dust from the Sahara is blown into the Gulf of Mexico. To understand the impacts of aerosols, scientists need to study the process as a global system.

    The Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has developed the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS), a family of mathematical models. Combined with data from NASA's Earth observing satellites, the supercomputer simulations enhance our scientific understanding of specific chemical, physical, and biological processes.

    During the 2017 hurricane season, the storms are visible because of the sea salt that is captured by the storms. Strong winds at the surface lift the sea salt into the atmosphere and the particles are incorporated into the storm. Hurricane Irma is the first big storm that spawns off the coast of Africa. As the storm spins up, the Saharan dust is absorbed in cloud droplets and washed out of the storm as rain. This process happens with most of the storms, except for Hurricane Ophelia. Forming more northward than most storms, Ophelia traveled to the east picking up dust from the Sahara and smoke from large fires in Portugal. Retaining its tropical storm state farther northward than any system in the Atlantic, Ophelia carried the smoke and dust into Ireland and the UK.

    Computer simulations using the GEOS models allow scientists to see how different processes fit together and evolve as a system. By using mathematical models to represent nature we can separate the system into component parts and better understand the underlying physics of each. GEOS runs on the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) For more information: NASA@SC17: Glimpse at the Future of Global Weather Prediction and Analysis at NASA
  • Three years of SAGE III/ISS Stratospheric Aerosol Data
    2021.03.17
    The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III (SAGE III) is a science instrument mounted on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS). SAGE III observes atmospheric aerosols, ozone, and other gases in the Earth’s stratosphere. As the ISS orbits, SAGE III collects data using a technique called occultation. Occultation uses the light from the sun, or moon, as it passes through the atmosphere to measure the amounts of gases and particles in that region of the atmosphere. This data is combined and processed into zonal means, which are averages for each latitude and altitude. Fast, upper level winds can move aerosols quickly around the Earth, so these zonal means help scientists understand the aerosol distributions in the atmosphere. These visualizations show approximately three years of SAGE III aerosol data. The first visualization starts by showing a zonal mean as a curved wall in relation to the Earth. The zonal mean extends between about 70 degrees south and 60 degrees north in latitude. The vertical scale is exaggerated so that the different heights of the SAGE III data can be discerned. The wall is swept around the Earth changing the representation of the data from a 2-D wall to a 3-D particle density field. This reinforces that the zonal means at a particular latitude and altitude are the same at all longitudes around the word. The particle representation of the SAGE III data is then wrapped and turned on the side. The initial data set starts at April 2020 as additional months are added building up a data cube that shows how the SAGE III data varies over time. The data ranges from April 2020 back to June 2017. The vertical scale of the cube is exaggerated to show the details in the data at various altitudes. As the camera spins around the data, high stratospheric aerosol events detected by the SAGE III instrument are pointed out including:
    • Aoba volcanic eruption in July 2018
    • Ulawun volcanic eruption in June 2019
    • Australian wildfires from November 2019 to January 2020
    • Siberian wildfires in July 2019
    • Raikoke volcanic eruption in June 2019
    • Pacific Northwest wildfires from July 2017 to August 2017
    The area below the data that looks like an arch is the tropopause. SAGE III primarily collects science data from the Earth’s stratosphere, which is above the tropopause. The tropopause is higher in Earth’s atmosphere closer to the equator due to temperature and air pressure, which is what causes the area under the data to look like an arch. As the camera continues to spin around the data plot, the lower values are removed, leaving only the highest aerosol measurements from SAGE III. The second visualization is the same as the first except additional months of SAGE III data are included (May, June, and July 2020) and the beginning is left out. The SAGE III data cube consists of cells of data (i.e., a particular latitude, altitude, and date). Each of these cells are represented by a cloud of particles. The color and density of the particles in a cell are driven by the aerosol extinction coefficient measured at 1022nm (see color table below), which is related to the number of aerosols. The size of the particles in a cell is driven by the ratio of the aerosol extinction coefficient measured at two wavelengths, 750nm over 1022nm. This ratio is sensitive to the physical size of the atmospheric aerosols. For more information, please visit the SAGE web site: sage.nasa.gov


Produced videos

  • Through Smoke and Fire, NASA Searches for Answers
    2019.07.11
    NASA satellites reveal a world marked by fire: a global patchwork of flame and smoke driven by the seasons and people. Summer wildfires rage across the western United States and Canada, Australia and Europe. In early spring agricultural fires blanket the breadbasket regions of Southeast Asia as they do throughout the dry season in central and southern Africa and Brazil. For years, NASA has used the vantage point of space, combined with airborne and ground-based field campaigns, to decipher the impact of fires—from first spark to final puff of smoldering smoke— and help other agencies protect life and property. But the effects of fires linger long after they’re extinguished: They can upend ecosystems, influence climate and disrupt communities. While NASA keeps an eye on today’s fires, it also tackles the big-picture questions that help fire managers plan for the future. This summer, NASA is embarking on several field campaigns across the world to investigate longstanding questions surrounding fire and smoke. Aircraft will fly through smoke and clouds to improve air quality, weather and climate forecasting, and investigate fire-burned forests to capture ecosystem changes that have global impact.
  • NASA Tracks the Arizona Bush Fire
    2020.06.26
    On the afternoon of June 13, 2020, a vehicle fire near the intersection of Bush Highway and State Route 87 ignited the brush and grass nearby. As of June 25, 2020, the Bush Fire is one of the five largest fires in Arizona's history. NASA’s satellite instruments are often the first to detect wildfires burning in remote regions, and the locations of new fires are sent directly to land managers worldwide within hours of the satellite overpass. Together, NASA instruments detect actively burning fires, track the transport of smoke from fires, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of changes to ecosystems, based on the extent and severity of burn scars. NASA has a fleet of Earth-observing instruments, many of which contribute to our understanding of fire in the Earth system.
  • NASA and NOAA Take to the Air to Chase Smoke
    2019.07.22
    NASA, NOAA and university partners are taking to the skies, and the ground, to chase smoke from fires burning across the United States. The Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) is starting in Boise, Idaho, with a long-term of goal of improving our understanding of how smoke from fires affects air quality across North America.