NASA FIRMS offers near real-time fire detection and monitoring capabilities

July 5, 2024

FIRMS delivers real-time fire data within hours

NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) distributes near real-time active fire data within three hours of an observation by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, as reported by Earthdata by NASA.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the joint NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and the Joint Polar Satellite System’s NOAA-20 and NOAA-21 satellites also contribute data.

FIRMS’ interactive Global and US/Canada Fire Maps allow users to visualize the location, extent, and impact of wildfires with minimal delay.

Diane Davies, operations manager for NASA’s Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for Earth observations (LANCE), said: “If you want to find out what fires are burning near to you, or where smoke/haze are coming from, then NASA FIRMS is an ideal tool.”

Davies added that the tool provides up-to-date information about fires and thermal anomalies, making it easy to visualize and access fire information, and that its coincident satellite imagery layers give users a good idea of whether smoke and/or clouds are present.

FIRMS’ diverse data products and services

In addition to its Fire Maps, FIRMS allows users to download active fire data products for the last 24 hours, 48 hours, and 7 days, receive fire alerts via email, download archived fire data, and access a suite of web services.

The FIRMS User Interface (UI) offers eight modes designed to support diverse users and increase visibility and access to other FIRMS products and services.

These modes include Basic, Advanced, Burned Area, US/Canada, Smoke/Aerosols, Experimental, Fire Alerts, and Downloads.

The FIRMS Basic Mode is initiated by default each time a Fire Map is opened.

In this mode, users have access to 1-kilometer (km) MODIS active fire data, 375-meter VIIRS active fire and thermal anomaly data, and 30-meter Landsat 8 and 9 active fire data (available only for the U.S. and Canada).

Each data source represented in the Fire Map has an associated information icon providing additional details about the data source.

Enhanced functionality in advanced mode

The FIRMS Advanced Mode provides access to all FIRMS satellite imagery, additional satellite data products, and ancillary geospatial data.

This mode includes daily real-time active fire data from geostationary satellites, such as NOAA’s GOES East and West, JAXA’s Himawari 8, and ESA’s Meteosat 9 and 11.

Advanced Mode also offers MODIS Burned Area data, daily gridded fire/hotspot data, smoke and aerosols data, Harmonized Landsat Sentinel-2 (HLS) imagery, and an expanded array of dynamic imagery.

Users can switch between FIRMS’ Basic, Advanced, and other modes by clicking on the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner of the Main Map Menu.

The Advanced Mode is designed for users already familiar with using FIRMS and provides additional tools for detailed fire analysis and visualization.

Tools and additional features for users

FIRMS includes several tools to aid users in analyzing fire data.

The Measure tool enables users to pan and move around the map, as well as measure total area or distance.

The Location tool allows users to find, select, save, and zoom to locations of interest using coordinates or place names.

The Layers tool provides quick access to Orbit Tracks and Overpass Times, Overlays, and Backgrounds dropdown menus.

The Capture tool allows users to take screenshots of the displayed map view, and the Share tool enables map URL sharing via email or social media.

Users can also utilize the Timeline tool to adjust the time period of interest and view active fire data by date and time.

This tool can be used to select specific days or date ranges and view corresponding dynamic imagery layers.

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