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Landsat image maps aid fire recovery efforts
Date:8/23/2011

e started using Landsat data to assess post-fire conditions, BAER teams had to conduct aerial and ground-based surveys, sit down with a topographic map and sketch out areas of high burn severity," said Brad Quayle, remote sensing/GIS specialist at RSAC, Salt Lake City, Utah. "With our USGS partners, we've now mapped over 28 million acres and 900 fires since 2001 using Landsat satellite data."

Algorithms like NBR are based on raw Landsat data. NASA and USGS pride themselves on high quality data, which the scientific community uses as a gold standard for other satellite data.

"The Landsat measurements are consistently highly accurate, pixel-to-pixel, image-to-image. That's why you can make these types of maps," said Anita Davis, outreach and education coordinator for the Landsat mission at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

A host of other national agencies use Landsat data to develop their own maps and ecological assessments. RSAC in conjunction with the U. S. Geological Survey for example, run Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS), a multi-year project designed to map the burn severity and perimeters of fires in the U.S. from 1984 to 2010.

The Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation program of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management also develops treatment plans for post-fire landscapes. Another interagency vegetation, fire and fuel-mapping program, called LANDFIRE (Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools) uses Landsat data to measure the nation's changing landscape for climate change and ecological research.

Two other NASA satellites called Terra and Aqua carry Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments that observe almost the entire globe daily at a coarser spatial resolution. MODIS images assist fire management agencies to locate and monitor active fires because the MODIS data are available more frequently and in real time. Landsat data,
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Contact: Rob Gutro
Robert.j.gutro@nasa.gov
443-858-1779
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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