NASA satellite measures height of smoke column on Tinder Fire

Tender Fire smoke satellite height

Above, image credit:NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team

I found out today that NASA has been measuring wildfire smoke plumes for at least a decade. The nine cameras on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) have been capturing imagery of the Tinder Fire as it passes overhead on NASA’s Terra satellite. With a little trigonometry it can determine the height of smoke columns. The image above shows what it came up with after analyzing the fire on April 30, the day after it made its biggest run. Strong winds on both days probably kept the smoke from rising as high as it would have under calmer conditions.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Tinder Fire, click here.)

The two photos below were taken the day before the NASA analysis described here.

Tinder Fire
Tinder Fire, April 29, 2018. InciWeb photo, uncredited and undated.
Satellite photo Tinder Fire
Satellite photo of the Tinder Fire, April 29, 2018. NASA.

Below is how NASA described the April 30 analysis:


“On April 30 at 11:15 a.m. local time, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) captured imagery of the Tinder Fire as it passed overhead on NASA’s Terra satellite. The MISR instrument has nine cameras that view Earth at different angles. This image shows the view from MISR’s nadir (downward-pointing) camera. The angular information from MISR’s images is used to calculate the height of the smoke plume, results of which are superimposed on the right-hand image (Figure 1). This shows that the plume top near the active fire was at approximately 13,000 feet altitude (4,000 meters). In general, higher-altitude plumes transport smoke greater distances from the source, impacting communities downwind. A stereo anaglyph (Figure 2) providing a three-dimensional view of the plume is also shown. Red-blue glasses with the red lens placed over your left eye are required to observe the 3D effect.

“These data were acquired during Terra orbit 97691. The smoke plume height calculation was performed using the MISR INteractive eXplorer (MINX) software tool, which is publicly available at https://github.com/nasa/MINX. The MISR Plume Height Project maintains a database of global smoke plume heights, accessible at https://www-misr.jpl.nasa.gov/getData/accessData/MisrMinxPlumes2/.

“MISR was built and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Terra spacecraft is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The MISR data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center in Hampton, Virginia. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.”

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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