Transcripts of Doug_Morton_Fires_Inerview

Interviewer: Joining us now from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD is Dr. Doug Morton who's going to talk to us about wild fires. Lets talk about this years wild fire season, what have you seen so far? Doug: The 2013 fire season has been a pretty active year across the western U.S. We got an early start in Southern California with fires in May. And that's just continued straight on through with damaging wild fires across parts of Arizona and Colorado some of the most damaging in history in terms of the loss of property. This fire season actually represents a some what average fire year when you look at the total amount of burned area and that's something we can do using NASA satellites to look at how this year compares to previous years over the last 40 years. Interviewer: So NASA has been monitoring fires from space for about 3 decades, what are some of the trends you are seeing. Doug: Across the United States we've seen a large increase in the total amount of burning over the last 30 years. When we look globally we see a singular trend with an increasing number of fires across areas like Southern Africa, the Amazon Brazilian Deforestation Arc as well as areas in Siberia. So these large wild fires are something we can see with the variety of satellites we have here at NASA from space. Interviewer: What do your projections show for the future ? Doug: Hot and dry conditions are really needed to have a large wild fire and as we look out using the latest generation of climate models we see areas of the United States that are already prone to fires getting hotter and dryer, here showing shades of red. As well as the fact that we see areas that today aren't at risk of large wild fires becoming a greater risk of those fires by the end of this century, areas like the upper Midwest or the Great Plains. Interviewer: So how are NASA satellites flying, How are NASA satellites flying some 400 miles above the earth used to detect and monitor wild fires? Doug: At NASA we have 14 different satellites that are observing the earth at all times. Those satellites give us an opportunity to study fires globally. Satellites like NASA's LANDSAT series allow us to look at a detailed opportunity of mapping out individual fires and their burn scars, other satellites are used to actively detect those fires and distribute that information in near real time. We even use other satellite sensors to study the smoke that gets released by those fires and we can combine all that information into a global model that allows us to look at where fires are burning and how the aerosols, smoke and particulate matter that gets released from those fires mixes into our atmosphere and helps us understand the Earth as a system. Interviewer: Learn and see more? Doug: This information and much more is available at nasa./gov/fires with additional information about the individual satellites and the scientists that use the data form those satellites to better understand how fires are changing our natural ecosystems and our human societies.