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Wildfires Data Pathfinder

Data pathfinders are pathways to the most commonly-used datasets within NASA’s Earth science collections. The goal of the pathfinders is to aid new data users in discovering data and visualizations of the data. While there are numerous datasets for any fire-related measurement, this pathfinder showcases datasets that are used by natural resource managers, wildland fire managers, emergency responders, and federal agencies to aid in decision making.
Photo showing a controlled burn of a forest on a hill side.

A prescribed fire is applied to a Pinus nigra stand in Portugal. (Courtesy P. Fernandes)

About the Data

According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, climate change has made its appearance, afflicting the world with extreme weather conditions, including increased heat waves, rising sea levels, and increasing devastation from wildfires, to name just a few. NASA is interested in all of these issues, particularly for fires because of their environmental, societal, and economic impacts. How are changes in climate boosting the increase in fire activity across the globe and what can be done to mitigate the impacts?

A combination of ground- and satellite-based data provides a unique view of the globe to better understand active fires and hotspots, thermal anomalies, and aerosol transport of smoke and particulate matter. In addition, climatological and vegetative measurements help scientists, researchers, and decision makers prepare for risk and response to events as well as aiding in forecasting events and assessing the post-event impacts.

NASA, in cooperation with its partner agencies and organizations, has a series of instruments that provide data to assist with forecasting, monitoring and assessment. NASA’s Earth science data products are validated, meaning the accuracy has been assessed over a widely distributed set of locations and time periods via several ground-truth and validation efforts.

Applications of the Data

Scientists, researchers, land managers, and decision makers are using wildfire data in numerous ways (to see how the data is being used, check out the Data User Profiles section of the Wildfire Articles page). Wildfire data can be used to forecast events. By acquiring data on precipitation, soil moisture, drought severity, topography, land surface temperatures, and vegetation density and extent, land and/or wildlife managers can perform pre-fire mapping to indicate potential areas of risk. Near real-time wildfire data, exploring the estimated extent of total area burned and fire radiative power, can be used to assess risk in a given area and develop a more efficient strategy for response. Wildfire data can be used in post-fire mapping, incorporating total burned area, burn severity, and vegetation regrowth.

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2019 at 12:32 PM EDT