A better look at the pyrocumulus over the Chuckegg Creek Fire in Alberta

Compare two satellite images

These May 26 images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite were processed by Jess Clark of the Forest Service Geospatial Technology and Applications Center. They highlight the northern portion of the Chuckegg Creek Fire in Northern Alberta that has burned 130,000 hectares (321,000 acres).

In an article yesterday, May 27, we posted a low-resolution satellite image of the fire in which we pointed out shadows cast by towering pyrocumulus clouds over areas that were burning intensely. These photos that Mr. Clark sent are more zoomed in and have higher resolution.

satellite photo Chuckegg fire May 26 2019
Satellite photo of the Chuckegg Creek Fire May 26, 2019 processed by Jess Clark, USFS. Visible bands. Click to enlarge.

The photo we posted yesterday and the one above utilize the bands of light that are visible to the naked eye and are what you would see if you were flying over the fire 50 miles above the ground.

The false color image below uses bands that minimized the appearance of smoke, enhanced water vapor in the pyrocumulus, and highlighted heat from the fire.

satellite photo Chuckegg fire May 26 2019
Satellite photo of the Chuckegg Creek Fire May 26, 2019 processed by Jess Clark, USFS. Enhancing water vapor, heat, and minimizing smoke. Click to enlarge.

Mr. Clark explained the utility of these images:

“This really highlights just how important multispectral imaging is for those of us interested in seeing fire effects and extent on the ground. The National Infrared Operations Program (NIROPS) maps fire extent on a tactical basis with much higher resolution aerial imagery, but there are occasions when this space-based data helps corroborate or clarify the data NIROPS interpreters couldn’t see. Our main use of imagery like what I’ve attached is for severity mapping after the fire’s out to aid emergency response teams (BAER) in their mitigation planning efforts. It’s also used by the silviculture folks as they plan reforestation efforts, if appropriate.”

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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