NASA´s Suomi satellite program can see the most intense wild fires from space
Photo: (Above) Snowfall and fire are juxtaposed in this NASA's Suomi NPP satellite image of China and Russian captured on March 21, 2018. It is unclear whether these are deliberately set fires for the purpose of clearing fields for planting or if they are wildfires. The fires span across the border from China to Russia.
Video: (Below) This video from 2016 explains how the NASA Suomi satellite program for wild fire detection works.
WILD FIRES: Last year was a dark year for forest fires - and already we are starting to see signs of what this year might bring. Oklahoma and Texas saw a lot of fire activity already in Mid March, Southern Australia has been experiencing devastating wildfires for about a week, and in Chile, 333 wildfires have been recorded by NASA´s satellites.
Wildfires have been plaguing Chile for several years. In 2017, Chile saw a record number of wildfires due to very hot, very dry conditions.
This year, Chile is once again seeing a spate of wildfires across the country. Dozens of wildfires were detected by the MODIS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite on March 21, 2018.
The Global Forest Watch website, as of this date (note: the totals change on a daily basis) is recording 333 distinct fires in Chile. The Cautin province is seeing the largest number of fires with the Nuble province close behind.
Published by Bjorn Ulfsson / CTIF NEWS. Article compiled by various reports from the NASA Home Page.
Chile has already seen 2,441 wildfires this year which is down from last year which had a record number of wildfires at 16,657.
NASA's Suomi NPP satellite collected this natural-color image using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from the Global Forest Watch website.
Kaliningrad, Russia has also seen an increase in wild fire activity in recent days.The Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of dozens of hot spots scattered throughout the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia landscape which is the westernmost point of Russia.
Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an area where the thermal detectors on the VIIRS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. It is unclear if these are wildfires that have broken out or if they are agricultural fires that are used by farmers to clear fields in anticipation of the upcoming planting season. What is clear is that the fires are contained within Kaliningrad as evidenced by this satellite image.
Surrounding these hotspots are large expanses of snow which cover parts of Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania.
Mid-March saw a lot of fire activity in the southeastern United States, mostly in Oklahoma; Georgia and Texas. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) released a situation report on March 16, 2018, which shows that the southern area (which includes the states in this Suomi NPP satellite image) had 66 incidents of wildfires recorded that affected 83,022 acres.
However, the majority of fires in the southeastern U.S. were not wildfires, rather they were prescribed fires set by various governmental agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service for many purposes. After years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy. Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time.
The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership or Suomi NPP, previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) and NPP-Bridge, is a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Originally intended as a pathfinder for the NPOESS program, which was to have replaced NOAA's Polar Operational Environmental Satellites and the U.S. Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Suomi was launched in 2011 after the cancellation of NPOESS to serve as a gapfiller between the POES satellites and the Joint Polar Satellite System which will replace them. Its instruments provide climate measurements that continue prior observations by NASA's Earth Observing System.
The satellite was launched from Space Launch Complex 2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7920-10C on October 28, 2011. The satellite was placed into a sun-synchronous orbit 824 km (512 miles) above the Earth.