The July 2012 Niobrara Valley Wildfires and their Aftermath: Satellite and Radiative Characteristics

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Timothy J. Wagner, Creighton University, Omaha, NE; and B. H. Decicco, A. A. Ellis, R. M. Hepper, L. C. Mahoney, M. Salerno, C. B. Risanto, K. Wright, and J. F. Schalles

In July of 2012, one of the largest wildfires in Nebraska history burned in the Niobrara River Valley in the north-central portion of the state. While over 280 square kilometers (70,000 acres) of prairie, rangeland, and forest were consumed, due to the sparse population of north-central Nebraska, few structures were destroyed and no lives were lost. As the fire burned for days, NASA's Aqua satellite flew overhead multiple times.

Analysis of the fire itself, its aftermath, and its recovery will be undertaken using various satellite-based instruments. The Line-by-Line Radiative Transfer Model (LBLRTM) will be used to model the spectral characteristics of the smoke plume which will be compared to the hyperspectral signal from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). The Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) will be used to calculate vegetation indices in order to characterize the vegetative growth in the burn area over the past two growing seasons. These and other analyses will be conducted as part of Atmospheric Sciences 644: Remote Sensing Theory, a project-based course taught in the Fall 2014 semester at Creighton University.