Fires are comparatively rare in North America, making up just 2 percent of the world's burned area each year. The fires that receive the most attention in the United States -- the uncontrolled forest fires in the West -- are less visible than the wave of agricultural fires prominent in the Southeast and along the Mississippi River Valley. Some of the large wildfires that ravaged Texas this year are visible in the animation.
NASA maintains multiple satellite instruments capable of detecting fires and supports a wide range of fire-related research. Such efforts have yielded the most widely used data records of global fire activity and burned area in the world. NASA-supported scientists use the data to advance understanding about Earth's climate system, ecosystem health, and the global carbon cycle.
NASA's Applied Sciences Program seeks out innovative and practical benefits that result from studying fires. For example, the program has found ways to integrate space-based wildfire observations into air quality models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that help protect public health.
NASA will extend the United States' capability to monitor and study global fires from space with the launch this month of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project. The satellite is the first mission designed to collect data to increase our understanding of long-term climate change and improve weather forecasts.
One of National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project's new, state-of-the-art science instruments will provide scientists with data to extend the long-term global fires data record. The satellite is targe
|Contact: Steve Cole|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center