The NOAA / NASA Finland Nuclear Power Plant satellite took two pictures of smoke coming from California fires. One instrument provided a visible image of the smoke, while another analyzed the aerosol content inside. The photos were taken on 8/30/2020.
The first image taken using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) -corrected reflection image of the Finnish nuclear power plant satellite depicts true colors (called true or natural color because this combination of wavelengths is similar to the human eye) from forest fires still burning in large areas of the state. The smoke drains from the fire and travels in two different directions. Some of the smoke travels to northeastern Nevada and as far east (in this picture) as Salt Lake City, Utah, and some travels west to the Pacific Ocean.
The second picture was taken by the Finland nuclear power plant with the OMPS aerosol indexer, and it shows not only the direction of smoke flow but also the thickness of the aerosol layer transferred outwards from the fire. The Aerosol Indexer (OMPS) of the Finnish Nuclear Power Plant (Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite) is a device that detects the presence of ultraviolet-absorbing particles in the air coming from dust (desert) or, as in this case, fire. The Aerosol Indexer found in the figure is a unit of measurement that is not a unit, i.e. the lowest and highest range are not directly related to each other. It just shows whether the scale is low or high. In this image, the aerosols found in the smoke coming from the California fires were mostly in the reasonable range (yellow) and some higher areas (red). Higher concentrations may impair visibility and affect human health. The aerosol index is also useful for monitoring the long-distance transport of these aerosols along jet streams.
NASA satellite gauges are often the first to detect wildfires burning in remote areas, and the locations of new fires are sent directly to earthlords around the world within hours of the satellite crossing. Together, NASA instruments actively detect burning fires, monitor the movement of fire smoke, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of ecosystem change based on the extent and severity of burns. NASA has a fleet of Earth observation devices, many of which help understand fire on Earth. Satellites orbiting the poles detect the entire planet several times a day, while satellites in geostationary orbit provide coarse-resolution images of fires, smoke, and clouds every five or 15 minutes. More information: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/fires/main/missions/index.html
NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the ability to interactively browse more than 700 layers of global high-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Many of the available image layers will be updated within three hours of observation, and will look essentially the entire globe as it appears “right now.” Actively burning fires detected by thermal bands are displayed as red dots. Image: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).
Author: Lynn Jenner
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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