5.4 Detection with Geostationary Weather Satellites: Current and Future Capabilities

Thursday, 19 June 2014: 8:45 AM
Alpine Ballroom (Resort at Squaw Creek)
Christopher C. Schmidt, CIMSS/Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

The current geostationary weather satellites operated by NOAA, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series, have had the capability to detect wildfires and agricultural burning since GOES-8 was launched in 1995. Developed at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the Space Science Engineering Center (SSEC) at University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wildfire Automated Biomass Burning Algorithm (WFABBA) became a NOAA operational product in 2002, available 24/7 in near realtime to all users. Since then the WFABBA has also been adapted to the geostationary satellites launched by Europe, Japan, and Korea, as well as NOAA's next generation GOES-R, for which it is a baseline product that will be available on day one. The WFABBA provides fire detection and characterization from those satellites, which for current GOES is at least every 15 minutes over the United States, and even more frequently when the satellites are put into their rapid scan modes for high impact events such as severe storms, hurricanes, and wildfires. The WFABBA analyzes the data contextually to separate fires from their local background and to ignore other signals that can mimic fires, such as large areas of hot ground and solar reflection off of bodies of water. It produces detections with varying levels of confidence and for the highest confidence category it provides estimates of instantaneous fire radiative power, size, and temperature, and does so within 5 minutes or less. In addition to providing access to over 18 years of fire detection data CIMSS has developed different ways to visualize the fire data. The presentation will explain how fire detection works, highlight the WFABBA's analysis capabilities with examples such as the 2013 Rim Fire and other recent events, and describe the future capabilities afforded by GOES-R.
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