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Satellites play vital role in spotting, monitoring fires
11 May 2017
Fires, whether naturally occurring or man-made, have substantial impacts on both the landscape and air quality. Fortunately, satellites can detect and monitor fires large and small, and provide data on a range of factors, including location, duration, size, temperature and intensity.
A large portion of the Southeast (an area including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) is experiencing drought conditions that, based on data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, range from mild to severe, with areas of extreme drought occurring in central Florida. The Florida Forest Service has reported that, as of 08 May, 2017, there are more than 120 active fires in the state. Consequently, the need to keep an eye on new and existing fires is paramount. Fortunately, satellites like GOES-16 and Suomi NPP are in orbit.
Image credit: NOAA - The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite captured this true-color image of a huge plume of smoke rising into the atmosphere off the coast of central Chile on 26 January, 2017.