Russia: Monitoring the Extent of Forest Fires in Siberia (IFFN No. 6)

Monitoring the Extent of Forest Fires in Siberia
Using NOAA/AVHRR Satellite Imagery

(IFFN No. 6 – January 1992, p. 10)

While most concern about the atmospheric of forest fires and forest conversion is focused on the topics, it is also important to determine the contribution of forest fires in northern hemisphere countries to global atmospheric changes. Forest fires burn over significant areas annually in Canada, the United States, Mediterranean Europe, and the territory of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). While fire statistics are readily available for most northern hemisphere countries very little information has been forthcoming from the USSR, where forest fires are a major force, particularly in the boreal forest region of Siberia. Statistical information produced by the USSR has often been colloquial in nature, rendered suspect by national political concerns, or representive only of those fires on which suppression action was taken. This has resulted in a gross underestimation of the extent of fire in Siberia where many fires burn unimpeded in remote, underpopulated areas.

While using NOAA AVHRR (Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer) satellite imagery (4 kilometre resolution) to monitor the Great Fire of 1987, research scientists from Forestry Canada Ontario Region and the NASA Langley Research Center noticed many larger, unreported fires burning in central Siberia. A request was made to NOAA to provide higher resolution satellite coverage (1 kilometre resolution) over Siberia during the summers of 1990 and 1991, resulting in the acquisition of a number of scenes in which both active fires and recently burned areas are visible. This data is currently being analysed and results will be available soon. High-resolution satellite imagery provides an economical and accurate means for estimating the extent of burning in Siberia, and this process will continue in future years.

From: Brian J.Stocks and D.J.Cahoon
Forestry Canada
1219 Queen Street East
CDN-Sault Ste.Marie,
Ontario P6A 5M7
NASA Langley,
Virginia 23665-5225

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