From forests to deserts, wildfires affect air quality, vegetation, human and animal habitats, and climate around the world. Fire managers and researchers are finding ways to use NASA data to battle fires and measure their effects. These articles, many from the Sensing Our Planet series, highlight some of these efforts.
Ash and Smoke
Burning fires produce both ash, which falls to the ground like snow but can also get caught up in winds, and smoke, a mixture of gases and particulate matter. These get into the atmosphere and can travel long distances impacting air quality regionally.
Smoke over Athens
The effects of forest fires show up in a multi-satellite view of pollution.
Fire Management and Prescribed Burns/Fires
Fire management entails the planning before an event with the goal of preventing fires from starting, the monitoring of a fire, and the assessment of post-fire impacts. Often this includes intentionally starting a fire, but keeping it under control; this prescribed burn/fire is often to reduce the vegetative fuel and to help endangered species recover.
Forest managers keep an eye on resources in near real-time.
Is the delicate relationship between fire and plants changing?
Forest Fire Science
Forest fire science entails understanding how a fire starts – what contributes to the fire and how the fire might impact future Earth processes. Understanding climatological changes is important to understanding how these changes may contribute to fires in the future.
Burned but not forgotten
Decades after a fire, high-elevation forests still shape a climate.
Wildfires are unplanned fires that start in forests or wildland areas. There are numerous post-fire impacts, including an increase in air pollution and less infiltration of precipitation, contributing to flood hazards even long after the burn.
Flame & Flood
Using past fires to predict future fire and flood hazards.
Researchers investigate how much wildfires contribute to pollution, and how far this pollution can travel.
Wildfires Can't Hide from Earth Observing Satellites
Sensors aboard Earth observing satellites and NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) provide information about wildfires 24/7 to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Meet some of the scientists using Earthdata using data for wildfire research and applications.
Dr. Charles Ichoku, studying the global and regional impacts of fires in Northern Sub-Saharan Africa
Dr. Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, studying wetlands and wildfire
Dr. Nancy French, studying the effects of wildfires on forest ecosystems
Dr. Róisín Commane, studying the effects of terrestrial pollution on the atmosphere’s chemical composition
Jun Wang, studying aerosols, clouds, and trace gasses and the effects of these on global weather and climate
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2020 at 11:54 AM EST