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NASA satellite data aid United Nations' ability to detect global fire hotspots
Date:9/8/2010

In the midst of a difficult fire season in many parts of the world, the United Nations' (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization has launched a new online fire detection system that will help firefighters and natural hazards managers improve response time and resource management.

The Global Fire Information Management System (GFIMS) delivers fire data from an imaging sensor aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites to generate daily fire maps and images through a freely accessible Web interface. The system also dispatches detailed email alerts of the quantity and coordinates of fires, and it does so less than three hours after a satellite passes over burning land.

"Man has been harnessing fire since prehistory. In fact, some refer to humans as the fire species," said program scientist Woody Turner of NASA's Headquarters in Washington who oversaw funding for the system's development. "But now we've got a daily overview of large fires around the world, enabling us to manage fireand our uses of firebetter."

At the heart of the new capability is NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument that scans the entire planet from north to south poles every 1-2 days and relays remotely sensed fire data to NASA's MODIS Rapid Response team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

MODIS looks for characteristic signatures of fire based on brightness temperature from thermal radiation given off by flames, eliminates false detections of other hot areas that may be deserts or sunglint with different degrees of brightness, and flags image pixels that confirm an active fire. The team then processes data into photo-quality images of active fires.

"When I worked at Etosha National Park in Namibia -- before the MODIS imager existed we had to painstakingly process satellite data manually, which took many hours on some days," said Diane Davies, a University of Maryland College Park researcher an
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Contact: Gretchen Cook-Anderson
cookander@gmail.com
240-997-7144
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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