Wildfires in British Columbia

August 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A 2-panel comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke plumes and thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (darker black to red pixels) associated with a flare-up of wildfires in western British Columbia on 17 August 2018.

A sequence of Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS (below) revealed the diurnal changes in areal coverage and intensity of the thermal signature of the fires.

Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS [click to enlarge]

Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS [click to enlarge]

Toggles between Visible and Shortwave Infrared images from Terra MODIS (1912 UTC), NOAA-20 VIIRS (1950 UTC) ans Suomi NPP VIIRS (2129 UTC) are shown below (note: the NOAA-20 images are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP). It is interesting to note the impact that the smoke plume had on the air temperature at Quesnel (CYQZ) — because the smoke layer was optically dense enough (VIIRS True Color image) to significantly reduce incoming solar radiation, the temperature was as much as 14-18ºF (8-10ºC) cooler than Prince George (CYXS) to the north and Williams Lake (CYWL) to the south.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images at 1912 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 1950 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 2129 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 2129 UTC [click to enlarge]

===== 19 August Update =====

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 Near-Infrared

GOES-17 Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play 81 Mbyte MP4 animation]

A 2-panel comparison of GOES-17 Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images during the 7-day period of 13-19 August (above) showed the diurnal changes in thermal signatures of the ongoing British Columbia wildfires. The nighttime thermal signatures seen on the 2.24 µm images (brighter white pixels) result from the fact that this spectral band is located close to the peak emitted radiance of very hot features such as active volcanoes or large fires (below).

Plots of Spectral Response Functions for ABI Bands 5, 6 and 7 [click to enlarge]

Plots of Spectral Response Functions for ABI Bands 5, 6 and 7 [click to enlarge]

Carr Fire in northern California

August 11th, 2018 |
GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non=operational *

A comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (dark black to red pixels) associated with the Carr Fire in northern California on 11 August 2018. A GOES-16 Mesoscale Domain Sector was providing images at 1-minute intervals. This comparison demonstrates how fire detection can be affected by both satellite viewing angle and shortwave infrared detector spatial resolution (4 km at satellite sub-point for the GOES-14/15 Imager, vs 2 km for the GOES-16/17 ABI).

A toggle between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) imagery viewed using RealEarth (below) showed new fire activity (clusters of red pixels) along the northeastern edge of the Carr Fire burn scar on the False Color image, as well as smoke plumes drifting northeastward; the heat signatures (brighter white pixels) of smaller fires hidden by the smoke were more clearly ssen on the Thermal Infrared image. As of this date the Carr Fire was the 8th largest and 6th most destructive fire on record in California, and was responsible for 8 fatalities.

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Holy Fire in southern California, as viewed by 4 GOES

August 9th, 2018 |
Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 [click to play MP4 animation]

Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 [click to play MP4 animation]

 * GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (black to yellow to red pixels) associated with the Holy Fire that was burning in southern California on 09 August 2018. This comparison demonstrates how fire detection can be affected by both satellite viewing angle and shortwave infrared detector spatial resolution (4 km at satellite sub-point for the GOES-14/15 Imager, vs 2 km for the GOES-16/17 ABI).

On the previous day, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image visualized using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed view of the Holy Fire, showing active fires (brighter red) around the northern and eastern perimeter of the burn scar and the smoke plume that was drifting to the north and northwest.

Landsat-8 False Color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Smoke from Mendocino Complex fires in California

August 4th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with hourly plots of surface observations [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke and thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (red pixels) associated with the Mendocino Complex burning in Northern California on 04 August 2018. Smoke was reducing the surface visibility to 2.5 miles at nearby Sacramento International Airport KSMF and Marysville KMYV. As of 7pm local time on 04 August the Mendocino Complex had burned 229,000 acres.

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) showed active burning along the eastern edge of the Ranch Fire (part of the Mendocino Complex) at 1845 UTC. The larger fire was producing a pyrocumulus cloud in addition to the dense smoke plume drifting northeastward.

Landsat-8 False Color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images (below) revealed a southwest-to-northeast oriented band of moisture and fast flow associated with a middle to upper-tropospheric jet streak that was moving over the region (300 hPa analyses). “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images showed the smoke plume drifting rapidly northeastward over California and Nevada, and visible Derived Motion Winds — which are calculated for pressure levels at and below 700 hPa —  tracked the smoke moving as fast as 58 knots at 2337 UTC. This speed was faster than 00 UTC winds at or below 700 hPa on rawinsonde data from either Oakland KOAK or Reno KREV.

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) Water Vapor and "Red" Visible with Derived Motion Winds (0.64 µm, bottom right) [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) Water Vapor images and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, bottom right) images with Derived Motion Winds [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 07 August Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed the nighttime glow and thermal signatures of the Mendocino Complex fires on 07 August 2018. As of 8:30am the fire had burned over 290,000 acres, becoming the largest wildfire on record in the state of California.