Category: EOG

Wildfires Threaten Largest Tree in the World

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Multiple wildfires in Sequoia National Park have burned a total of 43,375 acres. The park is home to the world’s largest tree by volume, the General Sherman Tree. Sequoia trees are the largest species of trees by volume and can live to be over 2,000 years old. To protect the Tree and other large ancient trees, firefighters have wrapped the base of the trunks with fireproof blankets. Strict fire management practices have thinned smaller trees and brush to keep the fire low to the ground and not kill the large trees. Sprinkler systems have been set up to protect the trees and structures inside of the park. A preliminary assessment of the sequoia trees may take days due to the difficult terrain. As of now the fire has not damaged the General Sherman Tree. Pictured are the VNF detections for September 15th-19th 2021. Along with the SNPP VIIRS day/night band radiances for September 19th.

Large Wildfires in California

By Elijah Mt. Castle

California has experienced several large wildfires over the month of August. The Dixie fire has been burning since July 13th and has grown over 910,000 acres. The Caldor fire started August 14th and has grown to over 216,000 acres. The River Complex and Monument Fire  both started on July 30th and are relatively smaller fires, 121,000 and 183,000 acres respectively. Numerous structures have been destroyed and thousands of residents have been displaced by the various fires. The Dixie Fire alone has destroyed 692 homes. The Monument Fire and River Complex were started by lightning. The other major fires are still under investigation. Dry conditions and wind have severely impacted fire suppression tactics over the month and all fires specifically listed are continuing to burn into September with some having predicted containment in October. Pictured are the VIIRS Night Fire detections for August with an associated temperature range. The darker the color in a location the longer a detection has been present. Also pictured is the VIIRS day/night band radiance for August 17th.

Bootleg Fire – Largest Active Fire in US

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Bootleg fire in Oregon is the largest active fire in the United States. The fire started on July 6th and has burned 232,763 acres since it started. The fire has destroyed 21 homes and 54 other structures and is threatening 1,900 others. Drought, high temperatures, and high winds have severely hampered fire suppression efforts. Multiple other fires in the region have been splitting focus as well. The Bootleg fire is only 7% contained and sitting at an area larger than New York City is threatening multiple towns in the area. The cause of the Bootleg fire is still unknown. Pictured are the VNF detections for July 6th through July 14th, 2021. Pictured with the Bootleg fire is the smaller Jack Fire. Also pictured is the Earth Observation Group’s Nighttime Lights for July 10th.

California Fire Season Begins

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Willow Fire in the Big Sur region of California is 19% contained. The fire started in Los Padres National Forest and has caused a closure of the area. The Forest Service has put a $5,000 fine and/or six months jail time on anyone who attempts to enter the closure area. Due to the remote nature of the fire, firefighters need to be flown in by helicopter to tend to the fire. Crews have been able to reuse previously made fire breaks in the area and the fire is situated between large burn scars from the 2020 and 2016 fire season. As of writing there has been no reported loss of life or property. Pictured are the VNF detections for June 18th thru the 21st. Also pictured is the EOG Nighttime lights for June 19th.

State of Colorado experiences worst wildfire season in 2020

by Chris Elvidge and Feng Chi Hsu (map by Elijah Mt. Castle)

2020 was the worst fire season on record for the State of Colorado. The Cameron Peak Fire, rated as the state’s largest, broke records by consuming 208,663 acres, forced evacuation of over 20,000 residents, and burnt a sizeable portion of Rocky Mountain National Park. Not far behind was the Pine Gulch fire, which burnt 139,007 acres. In total, 625,356 acres burnt in 2020 across Colorado. The map here shows the location and extent of satellite fire detections from VIIRS Nightfire, produced nightly at the Colorado School of Mines by the Earth Observation Group.

VIIRS Boat Detection Data (VBD)

By Chris Elvidge

The Colorado School of Mines’ Earth Observation Group produces global fishing boat detection data in near-real time from low light imaging data collected by the NASA / NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).  The detections are produced with a nominal four-hour temporal latency – with files typically ready by 06:00 local time.  Most of the detections come from vessels deploying heavy lighting to attract catch.  This is a common practice in Asia and several other areas.  EOG send email alerts on vessel detections in marine protected areas to government agencies and NGO’s in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.

Iranian navy warship fire detected by VIIRS Nightfire

By Tamara Sparks

An Iranian navy warship that caught fire in the early hours of June 2 and sank near the port of Jask was detected by EOG’s VIIRS Nightfire (VNF) product. VNF detected a fire at 2:02 local time with the NOAA-20 satellite VIIRS instrument in two adjacent pixels due west of the port of Jask, with consistent temperatures of 1033 K and 1043 K derived from Planck curve fitting. These temperatures are lower than that of typical gas flares, and the location is not near any known gas flares based on EOG’s 2020 gas flare survey. No fire was detected when the JPSS NPP satellite passed over an hour earlier at 1:11 local time, but a boat was detected at the same location by EOG’s VIIRS Boat Detection (VBD), which observes boats that have their lights on. This indicates that the fires detected are from the navy warship, and that the fire started sometime in between the satellite overpasses.

Multiple Wildfires in Manitoba Contained

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Canadian province of Manitoba has been experiencing multiple wildfires over the last couple of weeks. Dry conditions are to blame for the fires. As of May 14th, all blazes have been contained. The most recent wildfire sparked the 13th and grew to around 80 hectares (198 acres). This fire is now around 50 hectares in size. Several RVs and trailers from a storage site were damaged, however there is no other reported property damage. Due to the incredibly dry conditions, Manitoba has banned campfires and back-country camping. Numerous trails have been closed for the safety of hikers. Officials say the trails are closed so focus can be placed on fighting wildfires instead of rescue. Pictured are the VNF detections for May 13th-14th 2021. Contains information licensed under the Open Government License – Canada.

Earth Day 2021

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Earth Day is an international day of environmental protection. Started on April 22, 1970 Earth Day is now observed in over 193 countries. Earth Day was first proposed at the 1969 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by activist John McConnell. The event originally took place on March 21, but it was moved to April 22nd when United States Senator Gaylord Nelson suggested hosting nationwide sessions to raise environmental awareness. Earth Day is a day to celebrate conservation and peace between the nations of the world. The Paris Climate Agreement was signed on Earth Day in 2016 by over 120 countries around the world. This agreement has helped strengthen both diplomatic ties and global climate change mitigation. We here at the Earth Observation Group would like to wish you a happy Earth Day.