Fire and emergency applications are one of the strongest uses of GIS and remote sensing, particularly fire mapping, responding to emergency situations, hazardous fuels reduction, community assistance, firefighting, rehabilitation, and restoration. Forest fires have an important influence on the vegetation, habitats, water resources, air quality, microclimate and even general climate.
Forestry organizations and agencies have a unique and critical role in the nation’s governance. They serve in public land management, private land regulation, and wildfire management. While their significance is growing due to these roles and the increasing impact of forestry on other matters of societal importance many state foresters have indicated that geospatial technology is an invaluable resource whenever they need to understand, communicate, and make effective decisions about conditions on the ground.
MODIS Satellite Sensor – Lake Tahoe Fires 2002 (Image Credit NASA)
Current Lake Tahoe Fires(June – 26, 2007) – From Gold Rush clear-cutters to modern home-builders, people have brought 150 years of mismanagement to the Sierra Nevada ecosystems that produced changes to the Tahoe basin which fueled the 2,500 acre Angora fire this past week near the town of South Lake Tahoe. Approximately 200 homes had fallen to the 2-day-old blaze which was only less than 50 percent contained and causing ash and burned materials to runoff into the Lake.
In the Aster satellite image above, acquired in November 2000 shows vegetation that can be seen in red. The image on the right, acquired at the same time by a different spectral band of the instrument, is color coded to show the bottom of the lake around the shoreline. Where te data are black, the bottom cannot be seen. Scientists have been monitoring the lake water clarity from boat measurements since 1965 and have discovered that the lake along the California-Nevada border has lost more than one foot of visibility each year due to increased algal growth, sediment washed in from the surrounding areas, and urban growth and development.
Researchers and scientists have long been trying to predict the behavior of forest fires by using using high resolution satellite imagery and GIS in order to model a forest fire, the techniques for obtaining, analyzing and displaying spatial information in a timely and cost-effective manner are needed which has proven not only to be possible, but incredibly efficient and effective for the prevention and recovery of forest fires.