Detecting Fire Hotspots with the MODIS-GOES Hybrid

Fire weather is usually not the most significant weather concern across northern Alabama.  However, dry weather periods in the early-to-mid spring often bring fires to the forefront for NWS Huntsville meteorologists.  This was certainly the case on Friday, March 18, as two prescribed burns covering about 2000 acres (or 8 square kilometers) took place in Bankhead National Forest southwest of the Huntsville-Decatur metro area.  (In fact, southwesterly winds blew smoke into the metro area during the afternoon and evening hours.)

The MODIS-GOES Hybrid 3.9-micron imagery for the GOES-R Proving Ground had an interesting perspective of the burns.  The GOES-only image at 1915 UTC, not surprisingly, shows a rather sizable “hotspot” in southern Lawrence County, Alabama (denoted by the yellow arrow).

MODIS-GOES Hybrid (GOES Image), 3.9-micron, 1915 UTC 18 March

MODIS-GOES Hybrid (GOES Image), 3.9-micron, 1915 UTC 18 March

However, the 2-kilometer MODIS-enhanced hybrid image at 1901 UTC indicated two much smaller hotspots, each only about 1 pixel in size.  While the two burns occurred in very close proximity, they were not one large complex–a detail that the MODIS-enhanced hybrid imagery was able to detect.  It’s also interesting to note that the enhanced imagery also indicates a smoke plume that the GOES imagery misses, and regional bodies of water and urban areas also show up very nicely on the MODIS image.

MODIS-GOES Hybrid (MODIS Image), 3.9-micron, 1901 UTC 18 March

MODIS-GOES Hybrid (MODIS Image), 3.9-micron, 1901 UTC 18 March

From another perspective, the 500-meter MODIS natural-color image from the same pass highlighted how many sizable fires were ongoing across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee Friday.

500m MODIS Natural Color image, 1859 UTC 18 March

500m MODIS Natural Color image, 1859 UTC 18 March

3 thoughts on “Detecting Fire Hotspots with the MODIS-GOES Hybrid

  1. We have noted this as well on a couple prescribed burns and wildfires. The 500mb color composite is incredible. The transport winds are quite apparent. Smoke management and air quality officials may find this useful. I wonder if it could be useful for modeling applications.

  2. I know that they do wind vectors based on moving cloud objects, but I wonder if something as small, low and stationary-looking would provide enough data for vectors like that? Maybe in the GOES-R era? Meanwhile, we’ve been told that we may have to request Hysplit runs for some prescribed burns.

  3. I just saw a presentation of synthetic GOES-R fire detection data and it should have the resolution to not only identify the smaller fires but to have some output on the actual temperature of the fires due to the 3.9 and 2.25 micron sensor packages.

    We occasionally run hysplit runs but the local Forest Service is doing this on their own as a way to get a handle on where the smoke plume may go.

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