GFMC: Selected Examples for Imagery Information Sources – An Imagery Interpretation Aid

GFMC Selected Examples for Imagery Information Sources:

An Imagery Interpretation Aid


Editorial Note by GFMC: This webpage dates back to the late 1990s, at a time when the satellite remote sensing of active fires and fire effects on landscapes were in the very early stage of development. For historic reasons, this webpage is maintained.

The Global Fire Monitoring Center currently displays near-real time spaceborne observations to visualize active vegetation fires and fire effects utilizing two satellite systems/sensors, the NOAA AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) and, to a limited extent, the NOAA GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite).

NOAA AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer)
The NOAA AVHRR has been designed to provide information for metereologic, hydrologic and oceanographic studies. The Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI) support team is producing high resolution, detailed imagery of significant natural and anthropogenic environmental events, such as dust storms, fires, floods, ice floating, oil spills, severe weather conditions, snow storms, tropical systems and volcanoes.

Fire is one example for satallite imagery interpretation. The below mentioned and displayed significant events are identified by Satellite Analysis Branch meteorologists and reviewed by the OSEI Team.

The here displayed satallite images by NOAA-NESDIS has as sources the NOAA-AVHRR LAC (Local Area Coverage) and HRPT (High Resolution Picture Transmission) data (1 km resolution). The Fire Identification, Mapping and Monitoring Algorithm (FIMMA), developed at NOAA/NESDIS Office of Research and Applications includes the identification of potential fire pixels by thresholds applied to pixel data and the elimination of false signal by a spatial heterogeneity test. The modification of the algorithm includes the addition of a channel 3 – channel 4 threshold for the screening of hot surfaces, spatial heterogeneity test for channel 3 brightness temperature and sun glint test from the MODIS fire algorithm. The FIMMA has been tested with data over diverse areas of the world with different climates and vegetation types: Mexico, United States, Indonesia, Siberia and Russian Far East. The usual limitations of AVHRR-based fire detection have been identified: false alarms, over hot and/or bright surfaces, along the borders of extended hot areas, unscreened cloudiness over hot surfaces, from cloud edges, and sun-glint from small water bodies. Omission errors may occur in areas of extensive biomass burning where the spatial heterogeneity test screens out fire pixels because there is not enough valid background pixels. The monitoring of fires and heat signatures by satellite images is still in its development phase. The fire products have not yet gone through a complete validation process (Grégoire J-M et al., 1999, Ispra, Italy).

NOAA GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite)
This satellite is a five-channel (one visible, four infrared) imaging radiometer designed to sense radiant and solar reflected energy from sample areas of the Earth. This system, designed mainly to look at clouds, provides frequent measurements over a specific region in the Western Hemisphere. The thermosensor is not typically capable of detecting small fires. The middle infrared band detects heat approximately every fifteen minutes (NASA, 1999). Two advanced GOES satellites are in use, GOES-8 and -10.

  1. NOAA AVHRR Satellite Imagery Interpretation
  1. High temperature events/heat signatures
  2. Burn scar/fire scar
  3. Smoke plumes/pall
  4. Solar reflection/sun glint
  5. Development of the Florida Everglades Fire 1999 in time
  1. Hotspot Map
  1. World Fire Web
  2. Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE)
  3. NOAA GOES
  4. Forest Fire Prevention and Control Project (FFPCP)
  5. Integrated Forest Fire Management Project/gtz
  6. Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA)
  7. NOAA Hotspot Chart of the Meteorological Service Singapore
  1. Combined Information Sources
  1. BLM – Alaska Fire Service
  2. National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)
  3. FireM3  Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modelling Project (Canada)
  4. Avialesookhrana
  5. Fire Laboratory of the Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk
  1. Sources and References:
  1. NOAA AVHRR Satellite Imagery Interpretation

High Temperature Events / Heat Signatures

click here to enlarge (662 KB)FIRES BURNING IN SOUTH AMERICA: ARGENTINA AND PARAGUAY
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR LAC: Heat signatures and smoke plumes from many areas of fires burning in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The most active area of fire is in central Argentina.
click here to enlarge (805 KB)FIRES BURNING IN BOLIVIA AND BRAZIL
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR LAC: Heat signatures and smoke plumes from a large number of fires burning in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
click here to enlarge (837 KB)FIRES BURNING IN RUSSIA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR LAC: Heat signatures (red) and smoke (blue haze) from numerous fires burning in in northern Russia near Sankt Peterburg. Red area surrounding Sankt Peterburg is due to heat from the city but isolated HTEs between the city and the Lake Ladoga are fires since smoke plumes are faintly visible extending to the southeast.
click here to enlarge (816 KB)HOT SPOTS IN MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures (red spots), at least some of which are due to fires burning in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Some caution must be exercised in identifying all of the hot spots as fires because solar-heating of the surface easily saturates Channel 3 of the AVHRR. The presence of smoke (blue haze) in the hot spot area indicates that some of the HTEs are fire-related.
For the visual insights into the coherences of fires, please also have a look at the Photographic Interpretation Guide Active Fire Type

Burn scar/fire scar

Definition of burn scar/fire scar: The mark left on a landscape by fire (after FAO Wildland Fire Management Terminology [1986])
click here to enlarge (508 KB)FIRES BURNING IN ALASKA
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT: HTEs and smoke from areas of fire burning in eastern Alaska and in the Yukon Territory. Heat signatures related to the large fire area in eastern Alaska are clearly visible but others in central Alaska are being obscured by cloud cover.
click here to enlarge (156 KB) click here to enlarge (70 KB)WILDFIRES BURNING IN FLORIDA
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures (red) and the burn scar (dark area) from fires in the Everglades of southern Florida. Note the dark red area in the northwest portion of the burn scar. This indicates that fires or smoldering ground are present in this area. At the time of this image, news reports indicated that those fire areas were under control.
click here to enlarge (195 KB) click here to enlarge (113 KB)WILDFIRES BURNING IN THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT:  The burn scar (dark area) from fires in the Everglades of southern Florida. Note the dark red area in the northwest portion of the burn scar. This indicates that fires or smoldering ground are present in this area. At the time of this image, news reports indicate that those fire areas are contained and under control.
The Photographic Interpretation Guide Fire Scar Type provides a series of airborne and ground photographs illustrating the visual characteristics of fire scars in different vegetation types.

Smoke plumes/pall

Definition of smoke plumes/pall: An extensive, thick blanket of smoke spreading more or less horizontally from a fire. The gases, smoke, and debris that rise slowly from a fire while being carried along the ground because the buoyant forces are exceeded by those of the ambient surface wind (after FAO Wildland Fire Management Terminology [1986]).
click here to enlarge (540 KB)SMOKE FROM FIRES IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, CANADA
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT:  Heat signatures and dense smoke plumes from very large areas of fire burning near the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. Another area of fire is burning to the southwest in the Yukon Territory.
click here to enlarge (982 KB) click here to enlarge (1.1 MB)HOT SPOTS AND SMOKE FROM FIRES IN ONTARIO, CANADA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures, some of them quite large, and smoke plumes from areas of fire in Ontario, Canada and one area in Michigan. The fires to the south of Lake Nipigon continue to expand.
click here to enlarge (546 KB)FIRES BURNING IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures and smoke plumes from fires burning in northern California, western Nevada, central Utah and along the Utah / Colorado border.
click here to enlarge (338 KB)CLOSEUP REGIONAL IMAGE FOR NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN/CANADA
Source: FireM3
click here to enlarge (338 KB)CLOSEUP REGIONAL IMAGE FOR NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
A satellite image showing hotspots from 14 fires in Northwest Territories on 18 July 2000. Smoke plumes were detected using a CCRS algorithm and are enhanced to appear yellow.
Source: FireM3
The Photographic Interpretation Guide Smoke Plumes Type provides a series of airborne and ground photographs illustrating the visual characteristics of smoke columns generated by fire in different vegetation types.

Solar reflection/sun glint

Definition of solar reflection/sun glint: Bright reflectance of sunlight caused by ripples on water (NASA Fire Monitoring Glossary [1999]).
click here to enlarge (168 KB)SCATTERED HOT SPOTS IN FLORIDA
NOAA-15 POES AVHRR HRPT: A few heat signatures and some smoke from scattered areas of fire in northern Florida. Red hue of water is due to solar refelction saturating the AVHRR in band 3.
click here to enlarge (755 KB)WILDFIRES BURNING IN FLORIDA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures (red spots) and smoke (blue haze extending from hot spots) from fires burning in the Florida Panhandle, the Everglades and in southeastern Georgia. Pink color of water due to saturation of AVHRR channel 3 by solar reflection.
click here to enlarge (439 KB) click here to enlarge (141 KB)WILDFIRES BURNING IN FLORIDA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT: Heat signatures (red spots) from fires burning in Florida. The largest area of fire is in the Everglades where over 40,000 ha (100,000 acres) of land have been burned at the time of overpass. Dark area around the hot spots in the Everglades may be a burn scar. Smoke plumes are also visible although those from the Everglades fires are obscured by high cloud cover. Pink color of water is due to solar reflection saturating band 3 of the AVHRR.
click here to enlarge (234 KB) click here to enlarge (79 KB)WILDFIRES BURNING IN FLORIDA
NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT: Smoke (brown haze) from areas of fire burning in Florida. This channel combination provides a better view of the smoke plumes from the Everglades fires because high clouds are a distinctly different color (blue) from the smoke. Bright area to the east of Florida is again due to solar reflection off the water.
The Photographic Interpretation Guide Sunglint Phenomenon provides two photographs taken from the Space Shuttle illustrating the visual impressions of sunglint as seen from space.

Time series of the Florida Everglades Fires in 1999

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13 April 199918 April 199919 April 199919 April 1999
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20 April 199921 April 199921 April 199922 April 1999
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24 May 199927 May 199928 May 1999

13. April 1999: Heat signatures (red spots) and faint smoke plumes (blue haze) from fires burning in the southeastern United States. Although the large red area to the south of Lake Okeechobee is due to solar-heating saturation of AVHRR Channel 3, the hot spot within that red area may be fire-related.


18./19. April 1999: Fires burning in the Florida Panhandle and in the Everglades. The area of fire in the Everglades is much larger and has burned over 28,300 ha (70,000 acres). The pink color is saturating of bodies of water due to solar reflection. There are two main areas of fire in Florida: one in the Panhandle south of Tallahassee, the other, much larger, area in the Everglades. A fire and smoke plume area in southeastern Georgia can be seen at the state boundary.


20. April 1999: Dark area around the hot spots in the Everglades may be a burn scar. Smoke plumes are also visible although those from the Everglades fires are obscured by high cloud cover. Smoke plumes and high clouds can be distinguished by a different blue color. Bright area to the east of Florida is due to solar reflection off the water.


21. April 1999: The dark red area in the northwest portion of the burn scar indicates that fires or smoldering ground are present in this area. At the time of this image, news reports indicated that those fire areas were under control.


22. April 1999: This image shows a burn scar (dark area) from fires in the Everglades of southern Florida.


24. May 1999: The NOAA AVHRR image shows heat signatures and smoke plumes from areas of fire burning in Florida, norhtwest of the burn scar of the “April” fire.


27. May 1999: Smoke can be seen extending from the largest fire area in southern Florida on 27 May 1999. Red color of some bodies of water is due to solar reflection saturating the AVHRR in band 3.


The Photographic Interpretation Guide Everglades Case Study provides a series of airborne and ground photographs illustrating the ecosystem properties, active fire scenes, typical smoke plumes and fire scars in the Everglades vegetation.

“Hotspot Maps”

Definition of “hot spot”: A popular term for a High-Temperature Event (HTE) or heat signature as depicted by airborne or spaceborne remote sensing. Since night clubs are often also called “hot spots” this terminology creates confusion. After a time of transition the GFMC will use the term HTE instead of “hot spot” (after GFMC [1998]).
click here to enlarge (16 KB)World Fire Web

The World Fire Web is a system for globally mapping fires in vegetation. It uses satellite images (NOAA AVHRR) acquired by a world-wide network of receiving stations. Each station operates a data processing chain for detecting fires in the satellite imagery. Daily, global fire maps are built up at each station from this regional data by automatically sharing regional fire maps over the internet. Global fire information is then available on-line, from each station, in near real-time. Timetable: A pilot network with partial global coverage is in its implementation phase, started in June 1998. By the end of 1999 the network should provide a virtually global coverage of vegetation fire. The World Fire Web has been chosen as a pilot project to supply fire information to the Global Observation of Forest Cover (GOFC) project. The GOFC (http://www.gofc.org/gofc/projects.html) project is coordinating an international research programme designed to produce a comprehensive global forest mapping and monitoring system.
Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE)

http://www.cptec.inpe.br/products/queimadas/queimap.html

The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) provides real-time satellite imagery about the fire events in Brazil, a very valuable resource, this page is currently only available in Portuguese, but will soon be available in English.
Integrated Forest Fire Management Project/gtz

http://www.iffm.or.id/

The Integrated Forest Fire Management (IFFM) project provides a very valuable on-site source for forest fires in Indonesia. NOAA AVHRR derived hot spot maps and fire-danger rating for the project area are published on a day-to-day basis and thereby provide accurate and precise information for East Kalimantan. The delineation of cloud cover is important to clarify that the NOAA AVHRR cannot penetrate clouds and the information on the amount and locations of fires is incomplete.
NOAA GOES

http://www.goes.noaa.gov

The NOAA GOES homepage provides a coverage of the images from the geosationary satellite GOES. The use of GOES for daily fire observations is provided by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). CIMSS has used the GOES series of satellites to monitor fires and smoke in the Western Hemisphere for the past 10 years. To date most of the investigations have concentrated on using multi-spectral GOES-8 imagery (visible, 3.9, 10.7, and 12 microns) to identify and catalogue fire activity in South America associated with deforestation, grassland management, and agricultural applications. Daily fire product imageries are provided 4 times at 11:45, 14:45, 17:45, and 20:45 UTC. The website also contains the GOES-8 ASADA Experimental Smoke Product for South America. To access the GOES-derived fire information directly click on the Biomass Burning section of the UW-GOES website.
Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA) Fire Location Data Integrated by the GFMC into a Vegetation map based on a simple GIS

http://www.ruf.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/

The Satellite Remote Sensing Services (SRSS) http://www.rss.dola.wa.gov.au/apps/firewatch.html of the Department of Land Administration provides near-real time HTE detection and burned scar mapping for western Australia. In the Firewatch project the SRSS detects hotspots throughout Western Australia using the thermal channel of the NOAA AVHRR sensor on a daily basis. The georeferenced fire locations are received by the GFMC and integrated into a GIS containing a simple vegetation map. The production of this information points into a user-oriented direction by indicating the vegetation/ecosystem type in which the fires are burning and the possible impacts of these fires. The DOLA/GFMC fire map is a preliminary product.
NOAA Hotspot Chart of the Meteorological Service Singapore

http://www.gov.sg/metsin/hazed.html

Fires, detected from the AVHRR infrared channel 3 of the NOAA12/14 satellite. The map shows their approximate positions, as indicated by small red dots. Grey shaded areas indicate regions of significant cloud cover. The number of dots is not directly equivalent to the number of fires. A large fire could cause a number of adjacent pixels to be identified as hotspots. Hence the number of fires could be less than the number of hotspots.

Combined Information Sources

BLM – Alaska Fire Service

http://fire.ak.blm.gov/

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) is responsible for wildland fire management on all Department of Interior and Native corporation lands and on most military land in Alaska. Fire management is conducted under coordinated interagency fire management plans. AFS also helps plan and provide technical support in igniting and controlling prescribed fires requested by client agencies and provides support services to BLM’s Northern District. Durning the fire season the BLM-AFS provides update fire maps every 15 minutes. These maps are generated by various sources of fire information (ground, aerial, satellite).
National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)

http://www.nifc.gov/

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), Boise, Idaho, serves as the primary logistical support center for wildland fire suppression in the United States. The center is home to federal wildland fire experts in fields as diverse as fire ecology, fire behavior, technology, aviation and weather. The NIFC fire map is produced daily and shows for every wildfire a fire symbol together with the name of the location.
FireM3  Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modelling Project (Canada)

http://fms.nofc.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/FireM3/

The operational forest fire monitoring website for Canada is providing a historic (since 1994) and current view of all the forest fires in Canada. This website represents the output of the Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modelling (FireM3) project, a collaboration of the Canadian Forest Service and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing.

A quick overview of the latest fire situation (last update: <24h old) and all previous days, including the current season summary, can be accessed. An Internet Map Server, which is like a simple GIS running on the host computer, allows to zoom in on any fire or other area of interest and view the image and map data at full (1km) resolution. Selected close-ups are provided.
Russian Aerial Forest Fire Protection Service Avialesookhrana

http://nffc.infospace.ru/engl/main.htm

The homepage of the National Aerial Fire protection Branch “Avialesookhrana” of the Federal Forest Service of Russia provides up to four NOAA images for the whole territory of the Russian Federation; the NOAA images are prepared by the Russian Space Monitoring Information Support (SMIS) Laboratory (Moscow) and the Center of Remote Sensing, Institute of Solar Terrestrial Physics (Irkutsk).Regular updates on the current national fire situation are provided from the statistical department of Avialesookhrana and displayed jointly with the satellite data on the GFMC homepage.
Fire Laboratory of the Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk

Selected fire occurrence maps prepared daily by the Fire Laboratory of the Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk, in collaboration with the Emergency Situation Monitoring and Forecasting Agency, Krasnoyarsk branch. The maps are produced on the base of satellite data (classification by the NOAA AVHRR). They show the fire locations (by latitude and longitude) and the area affected by fire (red signature, size in ha). The red arrow at each fire location points to the nearest populated place. The terms Oblast or Krai used in the maps are designations of administrative regions.

Sources and References:

The NOAA-AVHRR images were produced by the Operational Significant Event Imagery Team by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Terminology References:

FAO 1986. Wildland Fire Management Terminology. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Forestry. Paper 70, 257 p.

Grégoire J-M., D. R. Cahoon, D. Stroppiana, Z. Li, S. Pinnock, H. Eva, O. Arino, J.M. Rosaz, and I. Csiszar. Forest fire monitoring and mapping for GOFC: current products and information networks based on NOAA-AVHRR, ERS-ATSR, and SPOT-VGT systems. Joint Research Centre of the European Commission Space Applications Institute, Ispra, Italy. Paper presented at the GOFC-Fire meeting, Ispra, 3-5 November 1999 (in prep.).

NASA (1999). Fire Monitoring Glossary. Responsible NASA Officials: Chris Justice and Yoram Kaufman http://modarch.gsfc.nasa.gov/fire_atlas/glossary.html


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