As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first step on the moon, let’s look at some technological advancements made by NASA that benefit wildland fire suppression and prevention efforts.
NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management (FIRMS) Map shows real time wildfire activity being mapped by satellites across the globe. The map even offers a free tutorial to help you access the information you need.
Another contribution to wildfire research from NASA is the Global Fire Weather Database (GFWED). This model predicts the formation and spread of fires, and can be used to alert people to weather conditions that can contribute to large wildfires.
NASA’s also has FIREX-AQ, a study program that provides observations of wildfire smoke and looks at its impact on weather and agriculture. According to the NASA web-page, “To understand the impact of smoke on the local and regional level, scientists must have accurate estimates of what’s burning, the quantity of emissions produced, the composition of those emissions and how those chemical compounds evolve in the atmosphere as they react with sunlight and other atmospheric constituents, including pollution sources. Scientific knowledge in each of these areas will need to advance in order to provide a detailed understanding of how smoke impacts air quality and climate, and to improve the efficacy of satellites in capturing data relevant to these goals.”
Who benefits from FIREX-AQ?
- Residents living downwind from wildfire.
- Public health managers and health care administers who respond to health-related smoke impacts.
- Land Managers who are making decisions about using prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads.
Our forays into space can help research scientists better understand wildfires, including weather that can contribute to wildfire intensity and the effects of air quality in the aftermath of a wildfire.
Photo Credit: NASA public domain photo, pulled 6 August 2019