Dr. Wilfrid Schroeder, ESSIC assistant research scientist and visiting scientist at NOAA/NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR), was quoted in an PhysOrg.com article covering the use of satellites to view the recently-contained fires in Colorado and New Mexico.
The two destructive fires, the High Park fire in Northern Colordo and the Little Bear fire in Southern New Mexico, burned well over one hundred thousand acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings, displacing thousands of people and taking one life before being contained, according to the article. Officials believe the blazes were caused by lightning strikes combined with dry, hot summer conditions.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, a joint NASA-NOAA mission, provided images of active fire data as emergency response teams continued to fight the fires that began in early June, according to the article.
The Little Bear fire in Lincoln County, N.M., burned a total of 44,300 acres before being 100 percent contained, and according to PhysOrg.com, the High Park fire in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and the Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) burned 87,284 acres.
Schroeder said VIIRS data will be used by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Weather Service.
He also said, “The science community will use the input for various emissions models that monitor and predict air quality and smoke dispersion.”
According to the article, “VIIRS continues a legacy set by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. VIIRS imagery has a higher spatial resolution than MODIS imagery, which means you’re seeing a smaller area per pixel. In the case of MODIS data each pixel looks at over a half mile (1 kilometer) while VIIRS data looks at one fifth and one half of a mile (375 and 750 meters).”