Fires show up on the image as red, orange and white. Photo by Jay Cable, Geographic Information Network of Alaska
New tools from satellite images are helping locate Alaska wildfires and forecast weather to protect firefighters.
In Alaska’s remote areas, a wildfire might not be spotted immediately by residents or pilots. While such a fire may be out of sight, its heat will show up in satellite images.
This summer, the Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute is creating a new type of satellite image that reveals fire details. It forwards the images to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which provided GINA with grant money for the work, and the National Weather Service.
The new images are useful for more than just detecting fires. When fire crews go out to fight wildfires, an incident meteorologist joins them in the field. During morning briefings, the he or she shares how winds, humidity or rain will affect the fire and helps plan the firefighters’ attack.