How Satellite Bus Watches Ruinous Forest Fires?

Satelight Watching Ruinous Forest Fires
Nov 16, 2022 Reading time : 5 min

A satellite bus can be used to watch fires from space. Burning at 800°C and getting spread at up to 100 m per minute, forest fires and wildfires destroy woodland covers and change landscapes, and satellite bus tech keeps us informed about natural disasters. If left unsupervised, most fires result in total devastation that a satellite bus technology can potentially alleviate. According to the ESA-backed service that’s monitoring fire damage in European forests, the riskiest areas are still in great danger. Last year’s very hot summer has caused many forest fires, and over half a million woodland hectares were destroyed across the Mediterranean part of Europe. By now, satellite bus imagery reported fresh outbreaks in Spain, Southern France, and Portugal, where 2,500 people have been evacuated from the blazes in Marseille’s foothills.

Each forest hectare that is lost causes the economy of Europe to lose 1,000 to 5,000 Euros. Burn scars left across lands have been caused by forest fires are seen from space in a red-brown color. Satellite bus optical sensors send spectral bands that have short infrared wavelengths, through visible and infrared channels. A satellite for monitoring forest fires can be used to monitor this disastrous activity. Italy’s National Civil Protection Department and France’s National Department of Civil Protection (DDSC), together with the Centre D’Essais Et De Recherce de l’Entente (CEREN), are testing how monitoring of weather changes might work — all using satellite bus technology.

What Causes Forest Fires & Why We Need Satellite Buses?

Need Satellite Buses

According to data from satellite buses, there are times when forest fires happen naturally, either because the sun has ignited them or because a lightning strike has hit. However, reports also show that most wildfires are caused by human activities, such as discarded cigarettes, unattended campfires, arson, and others. In other words, not being careful leads to destructive wildfires, and satellite bus tech stands guard of our forest covers.

It doesn’t matter what caused it, wildfires still need three important components to become ignited and spread. They need fuel, oxygen, and heat. These three components are often called a fire triangle. Fire starts when there’s a combustion chemical reaction that takes place between oxygen and fuel that heats at a flash point or at the lowest temperature at which ignition takes place. A satellite bus cannot be used to stop fires, but it can send timely notifications before they spread. 

Fuel can be any sort of material that burns. It could be grass, trees, houses, and shrubs. When burning, these materials emit vapor. The heat is bringing fuels to a flash point that causes evaporation. And the result mixes with oxygen, which not only ignites the fire but also sustains it. When fuel gets exposed to oxygen, there’s a chemical reaction occurs to release heat for generating combustion. 

How to Help with Forest Fires: Satellite Bus Tech Offer Solutions

Earth Observation satellite bus technology keeps us informed on why are forest fires increasing. The satellite bus captures information in next-to-real-time mode, sending notifications straight to the ground stations. Most relevant info is provided by the Resource Management System (FIRMS) and NASA’s Fire Information.

FIRMS brings any data that’s active from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). These instruments usually take 3 hours to observe from a satellite bus, and bus imagery is available within 4-5 hours. Global active detections can be viewed on FIRMS Fire Map. The data is active for 24 or 48 hours, sometimes even a week.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) relies on satellite bus imagery and uses data from FIRMS. This data is about the three most prominent satellite bus platforms: Global Forest Watch Fires (GFW-F), Resource Watch, and Global Forest Watch (GFW). When working collectively, these satellite buses enable, analyze, and download active alerts. GFW-F and GFW use the FIRMS data to display it for dashboards or natural damage reports so that the fires can be prevented.

The satellite buses are very important because it detects and monitors many disasters at the same time. Satellite bus gives us information on the location, temperature, and duration of an outbreak, along with its temperature. It’s very important to observe and monitor the smoke from any fires.

What’s changing about satellite buses and GOES satellites is that recently, satellites for commercial purposes have been often launched and enabled real-time capabilities for weather monitoring. And so, governments are starting to realize that weather monitoring in real-time is very important when it comes to integrating wildfire forecasting and monitoring activities that are related to environmental phenomena, including lightning.

New weather satellites that incorporate thermal imaging processing WF-ABBA algorithms that process thermal images detecting active fires. It has been demonstrated with recent fires in California and other places that these natural occurrences can’t be easily understood, given the resolution and spatial scales.

And even though satellite buses cannot stop any natural disasters, they can give us valuable data on preventing damage from human activities — not to mention, data from satellite buses gives us a chance to respond to those disasters in time.

Louise Simon
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Louise Simon