GOES-14 SRSO-R: central Montana wildfire

August 15th, 2015 |

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR images [click to play MP4 animation]

A comparison of 4-km resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 3.9 µm shortwave infrared images (above; click to play MP4 animation; also available as a 9.4 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the development and evolution of the “hot spot” (dark black to yellow to red color enhancement) associated with a small wildfire that formed near the border of Fergus and Petroleum counties in central Montana during the afternoon hours on 15 August 2015. With GOES-15 Routine Scan mode “SUB-CONUS” sectors, images were available up to 6 times per hour (at :00, :11, :15, :30, :41, and :45); with GOES-13 in Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode, images were available up to 8 times per hour (at :00, :07, :15, :25, :30, :37, :45, and :55). The GOES-14 satellite had been placed into Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) mode, providing images at 1-minute intervals to emulate what will be available with mesoscale sectors from the ABI instrument on GOES-R.

For the central Montana wildfire, the first unambiguous signature of a darker black wildfire hot spot began to appear on each satellite after about 1945 UTC, with the first color-enhanced pixels (signifying a shortwave IR brightness temperature of 331.9 K) showing up on the 2026 UTC GOES-14 image. The hottest fire pixel  on the GOES-15 images was 336.5 K at 2130 UTC, while the hottest fire pixel on GOES-13 images was 329.8 K at 2125 UTC. From 2120 to 2130 UTC, the hottest GOES-14 fire pixels were 341.2 K (the saturation temperature of the 3.9 µm detectors on that satellite).

With the finer spatial resolution of the shortwave IR detectors on the polar-orbiting MODIS (1-km) and VIIRS (375-meter) instruments, a fire hot spot was first detected on the 1857 UTC VIIRS image (below).

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.7 µm shortwave IR images [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.7 µm shortwave IR images [click to enlarge]

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