The Response to Fires and Dust Storms in the Exo-urban Environment in the GOES-R Era

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 1:30 PM
Room C203 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Raymond Hoff, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD; and A. K. Huff and S. Kondragunta

Increasing urbanization of sub- and exo-urban environments has brought vulnerable populations in contact with natural hazards. The numbers of homes destroyed in wildfires has increased in recent years as the number of acres of wildfire has also increased. A recent study has estimated the economic impact of fighting wildfire and, for every 1 F increase in average monthly temperature, the cost of fighting western wildfire rises by 35%.1 Plumes of smoke from wildfires is itself a hazard to persons with weakened respiratory and cardiac conditions. From a longer-range perspective, fire and dust is a transportation hazard. In May 2006, wildfires in Florida closed highways with a large pileup of cars and trucks that ran into a plume across I-95. Recently, Lufthansa pilots have reported fire plumes near flight altitude on transatlantic routes.

In 2015, NOAA will launch a new series of environmental satellites, the GOES-R series, which has the capability of monitoring transient events at very high spatial and temporal resolution over much of the Western Hemisphere. By 2017, that coverage should be the entire continental US (CONUS) region.

As part of the preparation for utilization of the GOES-R data, air quality and meteorological forecasters are being trained in the capability of the new Advanced Baseline Imager that will fly on GOES-R. The Air Quality Proving Ground has developed new tools which can be used by local forecasters to drill down to the county level or finer and that will have up to 5 minute temporal resolution. Examples of the test data sets prepared for the AQPG will be shown and demonstrate how smoke and dust monitoring and forecasting for air quality and visibility can be improved with this next generation satellite sensor.

1 R. Rasker, "The Rising Cost of Wildfire Protection", Headwaters Economics, P. O. Box 7059, Bozeman, MT 59771