Picture of a Finnish nuclear power plant from California fires
NOAA / NASA’s Finland NPP satellite took two pictures of smoke rising from California fires. One instrument produced a visible image of the smoke, while the other analyzed the aerosol concentration within. The photos were taken on 8/30/2020.
The first image taken by the Finnish Nuclear Power Plant’s satellite VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) with a corrected reflection image shows a true color image (called true color or natural color because this combination of wavelengths is similar to that seen by the human eye). ) wildfires that continue to burn in large areas of the state. Smoke leaks from fires 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 image was taken at the Finnish nuclear power plant with the OMPS Aerosol Indexer, and shows not only the direction of the smoke flow but also the thickness of the aerosol layer transferred outwards from the fires. The Aerosol Indexer (OMPS) of the Finnish Nuclear Power Plant (Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite) is an instrument that detects particles that absorb ultraviolet radiation in the air from dust (desert) or, as in this case, soot caused by fire. The aerosol index found on the scale in the figure is unitless, i.e. the lowest and highest ranges are not directly related to each other. It just shows whether the scale is low or high. The aerosols found in this image from the smoke of California fires were mostly in the moderate range (yellow) and some areas in the higher range (red). Higher concentrations may impair visibility and affect human health. The aerosol index is also useful for monitoring the long-range transport of these aerosols moving along jet streams.
NASA satellite instruments are often the first to detect forest fires in remote areas, and the locations of new fires are sent directly to earthlords around the world within hours of crossing the satellite. Together, NASA instruments actively detect burning fires, monitor smoke transport from fires, 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 to understand the Earth’s fire. Satellites orbiting the poles provide observations of the entire planet several times a day, while satellites in geostationary orbit provide coarse-resolution images of fires, smoke, and clouds every 5 to 15 minutes. For more information, visit 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 global, full-resolution layers of satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Many of the available image layers will be updated within three hours of observation, showing virtually the entire globe as it appears “at this time.” Actively burning fires detected by the heat tape appear as red dots. Image: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).
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