September 11 2013

Key Satellite Instrument Captures West Fork Complex Fire in Southern Colorado

west work fire
This false color composite image from the VIIRS sensor aboard the Suomi NPP satellite mission provides observations of the West Fork Complex Fire on June, 24, 2013. The three fires are evident by the distinct burn scars (dark brown) in the center of the image, and the smoke plumes emitting (light grey) from the Papoose Fire. (CREDIT: NOAA)
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP satellite delivered valuable imagery of the West Fork Complex Fire in southern Colorado at the height of the fire in June and July.

VIIRS has the ability to not only provide fire locations, but also an indication of their intensity. This information helps identify the most intense burning along extensive fire fronts, which might not be evident from other ground-based or airborne observations.

A member of the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP VIIRS Active Fire team traveled to the West Fork Complex to explain how VIIRS imagery is working today to detect fire and what other capabilities the instrument provides that are not yet being used in the field.

The West Fork Complex consisted of three lightning-caused wildfires--- West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose--- which burned in the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests and private lands in southern Colorado for more than a month.

This false color composite image from the VIIRS sensor aboard the Suomi NPP satellite mission provides observations of the West Fork Complex Fire on June, 24, 2013. The three fires are evident by the distinct burn scars (dark brown) in the center of the image, and the smoke plumes emitting (light grey) from the Papoose Fire.

For more information on the science behind VIIRS and how satellite data can help fight fires, click here, or visit the Science Seminar section of the website.

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