Category Archives: Fire detection

Day 7 of the Thomas Fire in Southern California

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

The Thomas fire began burning in Southern California around 6:30 PM local time on 04 December (blog post) — and on 10 December 2017, GOES-15 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed that the fire showed little signs of diminishing during the nighttime hours, and in fact began to exhibit a trend of intensification around 05 UTC or 9 PM local time. However, toward the end of the day on 10 December, bands of  thick cirrus clouds moving over the fire region acted to dramatically attenuate the satellite-detected thermal signature of the fire complex. Although the Santa Ana winds were not as intense as they had been during the previous week, some strong wind gusts were still observed.

A sequence of 4 Shortwave Infrared images from Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS (below) showed the westward and northwestward expansion of the fire during the 0637 to 2032 UTC period. The Thomas fire has now burned 230,000 acres, making it the fifth largest wildfire on record in California.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images, with corresponding surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images, with corresponding surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

In a toggle between Terra MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images at 1846 UTC (below; source) the true-color image revealed a broad plume of thick smoke being transported westward and northwestward from the fire source region, while the false-color image showed the areal coverage of the burn scar (which appeared as reddish-brown hues beneath the clouds) as well as locations of the larger and more intense active fires (brighter pink to white) that were burning along the northern to western perimeter of the burn scar.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2032 UTC or 12:32 PM  local time (below) showed a well-defined thermal signature before the thicker cirrus clouds moved overhead from the south. A small cloud cluster (located just northwest of the fire thermal signature) exhibited a minimum infrared brightness temperature of -43ºC — if this cloud feature was indeed generated by the fire complex, it meets the -40ºC criteria of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

The fire was producing very thick smoke, in addition to deep pyrocumulus clouds (top photo taken around 1945 UTC or 11:45 AM local time):

 

 

 

===== 11 December Update =====
 

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1035 UTC or 2:35 AM local time (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) demonstrated how different spectral bands can be used to detect nighttime fire signatures. The maximum infrared brightness temperature on the 4.05 µm image was 389 K (115.9ºC or 240.5ºF). Note that the recently-launched JPSS-1/NOAA-20 satellite also carries a VIIRS instrument.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed that once the thicker bands of cirrus clouds moved northwestward away from the region, a more well-defined thermal signature became apparent.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

A 7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images (source: RealEarth) is shown below — it illustrates the spread of the Thomas Fire from 05 December to 11 December. Hot infrared pixels are black, with saturated pixels appearing bright white.

7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

Wildfires in southern California

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as an animated GIF) showed the rapid development of wildfires driven by strong Santa Ana winds in Southern California on 05 December 2017. The fire thermal anomalies or “hot spots” are highlighted by the dark black to yellow to red pixels — the initial signature was evident on the 0230 UTC image (6:30 PM local time on 04 December), however the GOES-15 satellite was actually scanning that particular area at 0234 UTC or 6:34 PM local time. The Thomas Fire (the largest of the fires) advanced very quickly toward the southwest, nearly reaching the coast.

Nighttime image toggles between Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) data at 0904 UTC and 1044 UTC (below) revealed the large fire hot spots, along with the extensive smoke plume that was drifting over the adjacent nearshore waters of the Pacific Ocean. With ample illumination from the Moon (which was in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 95% of Full), the “visible image at night” capability of the VIIRS Day/Night Band — which will also be available from the recently-launched JPSS-1/NOAA-20 satellite — was clearly demonstrated.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

A toggle between the two VIIRS Day/Night Band images (below; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed initial darkness resulting from fire-related power outages in Santa Barbara County to the north, and Ventura County to the south (in the Oxnard/Camarillo area).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

This large wind-driven fire was also very hot — the maximum brightness temperature on the VIIRS 4.05 µm Shortwave Infrared image was 434.6 K or 322.6º F, which was above the saturation threshold of the VIIRS 3.75 µm Shortwave Infrared detectors (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 4.05 µm and 3.75 µm Shortwave Infrared images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS 4.05 µm and 3.75 µm Shortwave Infrared images [click to enlarge]

In a comparison of daytime GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below), the west-southwestward transport of smoke over the Pacific Ocean was clearly seen.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A more detailed view of the thick smoke originating from the 3 fires (from north to south: the Thomas, Rye and Creek fires) was provided by a 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image from the MODIS Today site (below).

Aqua MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Immediately downwind of the Creek Fire, smoke was reducing the surface visibility to 1 mile at Van Nuys and adversely affecting air quality (below).

Time series plot of surface reports at Van Nuys, California [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface reports at Van Nuys, California [click to enlarge]

===== 06 December Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm and 4.05 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm and 4.05 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The fires in Southern California continued to burn into the following night, as shown by Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm and 4.05 µm) images (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS). A large-scale view with Day/Night Band imagery revealed the extent of smoke transport westward over the Pacific Ocean.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) displayed the thermal signatures exhibited by the fires. Note the appearance of a new fire — the Skirball Fire — first appearing on the 1300 UTC (5:00 AM local time) image, just north of Santa Monica (KSMO). Although the Santa Ana winds were not quite as strong as the previous day, some impressive wind gusts were still reported.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra (1911 UTC) & Aqua (2047 UTC) MODIS true-color images from MODIS Today (below) showed significant pyrocumulus development from a flare-up along the northeast perimeter of the Thomas Fire. The cloud plume only exhibited a minimum infrared brightness temperature of +5.5º C on the corresponding Aqua MODIS Infrared Window image, far above the -40ºC threshold assigned to pyroCumulonimbus clouds.

Comparison of Terra (1911 UTC) & Aqua (2047 UTC) MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Comparison of Terra (1911 UTC) & Aqua (2047 UTC) MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

===== 07 December Update =====

Suomi NPP Day Night Band Imagery, 3-7 December 2017, over southern California

RealEarth imagery of the Day Night Band over 5 days (one image each night from 3 through 7 December), above, shows the evolution of the fire complex (Imagery courtesy Russ Dengel, SSEC). Similarly, a closer view of daily composites of VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) imagery (below) revealed the growth and spread of the Thomas Fire from 04-07 December.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image composites [click to enlarge\

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image composites [click to enlarge]

In a toggle between Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images (below), the large burn scar of the Thomas Fire (shades of red to brown) was very apparent on the false-color image.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Prescribed burn in Wisconsin

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as an animated GIF) showed signatures associated with a prescribed burn in western Wisconsin on 28 November 2017. The Shortwave Infrared images revealed a warm thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (dark black to yellow to red pixels) — and on the visible images, a thin smoke plume could be seen drifting southeastward from the fire source.

Early in the animation sequence, however, a band of cirrus cloud was moving over the fire — yet a faint thermal signature (darker gray to black pixels) could occasionally be seen on the Shortwave Infrared imagery. The cirrus cloud layer was thin enough to allow some of the heat energy emitted by the fire to pass through and reach the satellite detectors. Once the cirrus moved to the south, the fire’s hot spot became much more apparent.

A toggle between Terra MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images at 1812 UTC (below) also showed a faint warm fire signature through the cirrus clouds — the cloud-top Infrared Window brightness temperature directly over the fire in northern Monroe County was -33ºC, while the warmest Shortwave Infrared brightness temperature of the subtle fire signature was +1ºC.

Terra MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

As was seen on the GOES-16 imagery, after the band of cirrus moved south of the fire an Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) image at 1912 UTC (below) displayed a pronounced fire hot spot signature.

Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

(Thanks to Dave Schmidt, NWS La Crosse, for bringing this case to our attention!)

GOES-16 Tools to Observe and Monitor Fires

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) Imagery, 1522-2017 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing.

GOES-16 provides many tools to the Operational Meteorologist, and to National Weather Service Incident Meteorologists (IMETs), to monitor fires when they occur, such as those over Napa and Sonoma Counties in California (Blog Post). Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) channels, above and below, respectively, are available routinely at 5-minute intervals over the Continental United States. During daytime, the Visible Imagery is useful for highlighting smoke palls and for alerting meteorologists to any wind changes. The Shortwave Infrared has long been used to detect fires; the shortwave infrared channel on GOES-16 can detect hotter and smaller fires than previous GOES Satellites because of improved spatial resolution and improved bit depth in the imagery.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Imagery, 1522-2017 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 Channels can be combined to create Red Green Blue (RGB) Composites that also help identify fires qualitatively. The Fire RGB, below, combines the shortwave IR (3.9 µm) with the 2.2 µm and 1.6 µm channels; as fires get warmer, radiation is emitted at shorter and shorter wavelengths. When this RGB shows white values, you can be certain that the fire is very hot. At some times in the RGB animation, the 3.9 µm imagery is missing where the fire is exceptionally hot, meaning the ‘red’ component of the RGB has no value, and the RGB acquires a blue and green hue.

GOES-16 Fire Temperature RGB, 1522 – 2017 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

The Fire Temperature RGB like the visible imagery shown above offer qualitative information about fire. More quantitative information is available in GOES-16 Baseline Products that are an extension and refinement of the WF-ABBA products available for GOES-13 and GOES-15 (and other satellites). Fire-related products for GOES-16 include Fire Area and Fire Temperature, shown below. The products give the size of the fire within the pixel, and its temperature. These products are valuable in quickly evolving fires to monitor how things change, and the products are available every 5 minutes.

GOES-16 Fire Area Derived Product, 1522-2017 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 Fire Temperature, 1522-2017 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

Finally, GOES-16 has 1-minute Mesoscale Sectors that can be used to closely monitor quickly-evolving fire situations. The 3.9 µm shortwave infrared and Fire RGB images are shown below for a two-hour period. There can be significant changes to a fire in 1 minute, as was seen in this Blog Post! Note again that missing points in the 3.9 µm imagery will show up as green or blue regions in the RGB.

Fire RGB Product, 1931-2130 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), 1933 – 2132 UTC on 9 October 2017 (Click to animate)

Wildfires in Northern California

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the “hot spot” signatures (black to yellow to red pixels) associated with numerous wildfires that began to burn in Northern California’s Napa County around 0442 UTC on 09 October 2017 (9:42 PM local time on 08 October). A strong easterly to northeasterly Diablo wind (gusts) along with dry fuels led to extreme fire behavior, with many of the fires quickly exhibiting very hot infrared brightness temperature values and growing in size at an explosive rate (reportedly burning 80,000 acres in 18 hours).

A comparison of nighttime GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (below) offered another example of nocturnal fire signature identification — the bright glow of the fires showed up well on the 1-km resolution 1.61 µm imagery. Especially noteworthy was the very rapid southwestward run of the Tubbs Fire, which eventually moved just south of station identifier KSTS (Santa Rosa Sonoma County Airport; the city of Santa Rosa is located about 5 miles southeast of the airport. These Northern California fires have resulted in numerous fatalities, destroyed at least 3500 homes and businesses, and forced large-scale evacuations (media story).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A toggle between 1007 UTC (3:07 AM local time) Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images (below) provided a view of the fires at an even higher spatial resolution. Since the Moon was in the Waning Gibbous phase (at 82% of Full), it provided ample illumination to highlight the dense smoke plumes drifting west-southwestward over the adjacent offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A closer VIIRS image comparison (with county outlines) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (below) helped to discriminate between smoke and cloud features offshore over the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

===== 10 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

With the switch to southwesterly surface winds on 10 October, smoke plumes could be seen moving northeastward on RealEarth VIIRS true-color imagery, while the burn scars of a number of the larger fires became apparent on VIIRS false-color RGB imagery (above).

===== 11 October Update =====

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

A toggle (above)  between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB images from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) showed the size of the fire burn scar (shades of brown) which extended southwestward from the fire source region into Santa Rosa.

===== 12 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

A transition back to northerly winds on 12 October helped to transport the wildfire smoke far southward over the Pacific Ocean (above). Smoke was reducing surface visibility and adversely affecting air quality at locations such as San Francisco (below).

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth values were very high — at or near 1.0 — within portions of the dense smoke plume (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Widespread Smoke in the Pacific Northwest

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing

Dry weather over the Pacific Northwest (and over Idaho and Montana) has created an ideal environment lately for wildfires, and much of the region is shrouded in smoke from those fires as shown in the Suomi NPP True Color Imagery, above, from this site.  Note the red points that are Suomi-NPP-detected fires; they persist from day to day, and some grow in size during the course of the animation. GOES-16 Animations of True Color (in this case, the CIMSS Natural True Color product that is created using Bands 1, 2 and 3 (0.47 µm, 0.64 µm and 0.86 µm, respectively)), below, (also available here; a similar product from CIRA is available here), show the pall of smoke as well. Air Quality Alerts from the National Weather Service were widespread on 6 September.

CIMSS Natural True Color, every 15 minutes, from 1400-2130 UTC on 6 September 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 has multiple channels and products that can view both the Smoke and the Fires that produce the smoke. In addition to the visible imagery, Fire Products, below, can characterize the Temperature, Power (in megawatts) and area (in square meters) of the fire detected by GOES-16.  On this day, clouds over the fires in Oregon mean that satellite detection is challenged, even though the by-product, smoke, is apparent.  Fires over Idaho are readily apparent however.  These fires were also detected by the 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared channel on GOES-16, the traditional fire-detection channel (used in concert with 10.3 µm, the clean window channel).  Imagery at 1.6 µm and 2.2 µm imagery can also be used to highlight hot fires;  that will be the subject of a future blog post.

GOES-16 Fire Products: Fire Temperature, Fire Power and Fire Area, 2037 UTC on 6 September 2017 (Click to enlarge)

 

The mp4 animation, below, shows CIMSS Natural True Color over the Full Disk on 5 September 2017.  The Full Disk View allows a better visualization of how the smoke is moving (and underscores how widespread it is) — and it shows Hurricane Irma as well.

CIMSS Natural True Color, every 15 minutes, on 5 September 2017 (Click to animate)

 

NOAA creates many Smoke-related products, some of which are easily accessible at this link.

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds in British Columbia, Canada

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing*

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) along with “Red” Visible and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed the formation of 3 pyrocumulonimbus( pyroCb) clouds late in the evening on 12 August 2017, within the cluster of ongoing intense wildfires in British Columbia, Canada.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

A toggle between NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Near-Infrared (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images is shown below. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature was -70º C (associated with the northernmost pyroCb).

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

In a daytime Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (from RealEarth) with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red (below), a very large pall of exceptionally-dense smoke from the BC fires could be seen drifting northward as far as the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

The Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index (AI) product (below; courtesy of Colin Seftor, SSAI) displayed AI values as high as 17.18 within the thick BC fire smoke pall.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

===== 13 August Update =====

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

On 13 August, a maximum OMPS AI value of 39.91 was seen at around 21:13 UTC over the Northwest Territories of Canada (above) — according to Colin Seftor and Mike Fromm (NRL), this value surpassed the highest pyroCb-related AI value ever measured by TOMS or OMI (whose period of record began in 1979).

The north-northeastward transport of BC fire smoke — as well as a prominent increase in smoke from fires across northern Canada and the Prairies — was evident in an animation of daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 07-13 August (below).

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Wildfire burning in Greenland

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; a zoomed-in version is available here) displayed a subtle hazy signature of a smoke plume along with an intermittent “hot spot” (darker black pixels) associated with  a small fire — located near the center of the cyan circle — that was burning close to the southwest coast of Greenland on 01 August 2017. The approximate latitude/longitude coordinates of the fire were 67.87º N / 51.48º W, a location about halfway between Ilulissat (station identifier BGJN) and Kangerlussuaq (station identifier BGSF) and about halfway between the western edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the west coast .

Closer views using daily composites of 250-meter resolution Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (from 30 July to 04 August), sourced from RealEarth (below) indicated that the fire may have started close to 1540 UTC on 31 July — when a small white smoke and/or cloud feature (just north of the cursor) was seen at the fire source location on the Terra image (overpass time). The Aqua overpass time was around 1600 UTC.

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Similar daily composite RGB images from Suomi NPP VIIRS (31 July to 04 August) are shown below. Note that the initial fire signature was not seen on the 31 May VIIRS image, due to the earlier overpass time  (1513 UTC) of the Suomi NPP satellite.

Daily composites Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images,.from 31 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images,.from 31 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

On 03 August, a 1507 UTC overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite provided a 30-meter resolution Operational Land Imager (OLI) false-color RGB image of the fire (below). This was the same day that a pilot took photos of the fire, as reported on the Wildfire Today site.

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A comparison of one “before” (27 July) and two “after” (03 and 05 August) Landsat-8 OLI false-color RGB images (below) showed differences in smoke plume transport as the wind direction changed.

Landsat-8 false-color images on 27 July, 03 August and 05 August [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 27 July, 03 August and 05 August [click to enlarge]

It is possible that this “natural fire” is similar to the Smoking Hills type of spontaneous combustion that has been observed in the Canadian Arctic (thanks to Ray Hoff, retired UMBC Professor of Physics, for that tip).

Credit to Mark Ruminski (NOAA/NESDIS) for first bringing this interesting event to our attention.

===== 09 August Update =====

The animations of daily Terra and Aqua true-color RGB images (below) have been extended to 09 August and 08 August, respectively.

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 09 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 09 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 08 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 08 August [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images from 04-09 August (below) include VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red. The 09 August image showed that smoke from the fire had drifted west-southwestward over the adjacent offshore waters of Davis Strait.

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, from 04-09 August, with fire detection points plotted in red [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, from 04-09 August, with fire detection points plotted in red [click to enlarge]

===== 12 August Update =====

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 03, 05 and 12 August [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 03, 05 and 12 August [click to enlarge]

Another overpass of Landsat-8 on 12 August provided a glimpse of the fire burn scar, which appeared as a darker hue of reddish-brown. Note that the fire had burned eastward to the coast, during a day when stronger westerly winds prevailed.

Related sites:

NASA Earth Observatory

NPR

ESA Space in Images

AGU EOS

 

GOES-16: wildfires in southern California

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

As southern California experienced a record-setting heatwave, 2 large wildfires were burning in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on 08 July 2017: the Alamo Fire and the Whittier Fire. GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke plumes and hot spots (red pixels) associated with these 2 fires.

The dense smoke plumes also exhibited a signature on the Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below), even though they were not composed of ice crystals (note that 10.3 µm Infrared Window brightness temperatures of the smoke plumes were warmer than -20º C, cyan color enhancement, the entire day). This example demonstrates that in a dry atmosphere, the “Cirrus” imagery will also be able to detect the presence of any airborne particles that are efficient scatterers of light (which includes smoke, dust and volcanic ash).

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.38 µm, center) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.37 µm, center) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

During  the nighttime prior to sunrise, with the benefit of ample illumination from a Full Moon, a long smoke plume streaming southwestward from the Alamo Fire was clearly seen on Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) imagery at 0910 UTC or 2:10 am local time (below). A very bright glow — larger than that of some nearby city lights — was co-located with the large hot spot on the corresponding Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Views a fire in Oakland, California

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) imagery, 1152-1357 UTC (Click to play animated gif)

GOES-16 data (and products) posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing

The San Francisco Bay Area National Weather Service office Tweeted out an image (as noted by the Media) during the early morning of 7 July of the GOES-16 Fire Temperature, a GOES-16 Baseline Product (link) above a massive fire in Oakland (News Report). The animation above shows the evolution of the fire as detected by the 3.9 µm Brightness Temperature shown in AWIPS. The first indication of a fire appeared around 1200 UTC; the fire was difficult to discern after 1330 UTC.

GOES-16 Baseline Products include Fire-Detection products: Fire Temperature, Fire Power, and Fire Area. These products returned values from 1222 to 1247 UTC, when the fire was at its most intense. The table below shows the values as noted in AWIPS.  The fire peaked in terms of Power and Area at 1237 UTC.  The animation below is for Fire Temperature, and only one area is indicated (Fire Power and Fire Area caused the same region to show a non-zero values, the same values noted in the table below). GOES-16 Engineers and Scientists are investigating why the pixel size below does not match the correct pixel sizes above in the 3.9 µm imagery.

Time Fire Temperature (K) Fire Power Fire Area (Square Meters)
1222 UTC 892 K 86 4000
1227 UTC 873 K 92 4000
1232 UTC 849 K 153 4671
1237 UTC 833 K 167 5402
1242 UTC 889 K 137 4000
1247 UTC 1041 K 94 4000

 

GOES-16 Baseline Product Fire Temperature, 1217-1247 UTC on 7 July 2017 (Click to enlarge)

The fire was hot enough that it emitted detectable near-infrared 1.61 µm radiation, as shown below (animation). The brightest pixel, pointed to by the red arrow, over downtown Oakland in Alameda County (outlined in magenta) shows an albedo of 4.2% before sunrise!

GOES-16 Near-Infrared 1.61 µm image, 1237 UTC on 7 July 2017 (Click to enlarge)