Early warning of active fire hotspots through NASA FIRMS fire information system

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Shriram Ilavajhala1, Diane Davies1, Jeffrey E Schmaltz2 and Kevin J Murphy2, (1)Sigma Space Corporation, Lanham, MD, United States, (2)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Forest fires and wildfires can threaten ecosystems, wildlife, property, and often, large swaths of populations. Early warning of active fire hotspots plays a crucial role in planning, managing, and mitigating the damaging effects of wildfires. The NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) has been providing active fire location information to users in easy-to-use formats for the better part of last decade, with a view to improving the alerting mechanisms and response times to fight forest and wildfires. FIRMS utilizes fires flagged as hotspots by the MODIS instrument flying aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites and sends early warning of detected hotspots via email in near real-time or as daily and weekly summaries. The email alerts can also be customized to send alerts for a particular region of interest, a country, or a specific protected area or park. In addition, a web mapping component, named “Web Fire Mapper” helps query and visualize hotspots. A newer version of Web Fire Mapper is being developed to enhance the existing visualization and alerting capabilities. Plans include supporting near real-time imagery from Aqua and Terra satellites to provide a more helpful context while viewing fires. Plans are also underway to upgrade the email alerts system to provide mobile-formatted messages and short text messages (SMS). The newer version of FIRMS will also allow users to obtain geo-located image snapshots, which can be imported into local GIS software by stakeholders to help further analyses. This talk will discuss the FIRMS system, its enhancements and its role in helping map, alert, and monitor fire hotspots by providing quick data visualization, querying, and download capabilities.