Earth from Orbit: Alaska Ablaze

6/30/2022 7:23:00 PM

June 2022 saw a record number of fires burning across Alaska, which have compromised air quality and stretched firefighting resources thin.

Fire, Wildfires

This year has been an unusually active fire season in Alaska, with warm and dry conditions that led to more than 300 wildfires igniting in recent weeks. So far, more than 1.6 million acres have burned. Learn more in our, newest EarthFromOrbit video:

June 2022 saw a record number of fires burning across Alaska, which have compromised air quality and stretched firefighting resources thin.

from reaching much of the area.NOAA satellites are providing critical data on the wildfires. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Joint Polar Satellite System’s NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP satellites plays an important role in detecting and tracking wildfires, especially in remote regions. The high spatial resolution from VIIRS allows the instrument to detect smaller and lower-temperature fires. VIIRS also provides nighttime fire detection capabilities through its Day-Night Band, which can measure low-intensity visible light emitted by small and fledgling fires.

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delaying aerial resources from reaching much of the area.This effect is known as sunglint, and occurs when sunlight is reflected off the surface of Earth at the same angle that the sensor views it.Alaska SeaLife Center takes in 2 abandoned harbor seal pups By - June 28, 2022 The Alaska SeaLife Center Wildlife Response Program admitted the first two harbor seal pup patients of the summer on June 2, 2022.Reports tonight from Wesley Early and Laura Philion in Anchorage Dan Bross in Fairbanks Kirsten Dobroth in Kodiak and Sage Smiley in Wrangell Alaska News Nightly is hosted by Casey Grove, with producing and audio engineering from Toben Shelby and Katie Anastas.

NOAA satellites are providing critical data on the wildfires. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Joint Polar Satellite System’s NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP satellites plays an important role in detecting and tracking wildfires, especially in remote regions. While an interesting phenomenon to see, there’s actually an important connection between satellite observations and solar energy production. The high spatial resolution from VIIRS allows the instrument to detect smaller and lower-temperature fires. The Wildlife Response Team at the SeaLife Center got a call in early June from a fisherman who spotted a skinny baby harbor seal on the beach. VIIRS also provides nighttime fire detection capabilities through its Day-Night Band, which can measure low-intensity visible light emitted by small and fledgling fires. Solar radiation, or the electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun, can be captured and converted into useful forms of energy such as heat and electricity. NOAA’s geostationary satellites provide timely and potentially life-saving information in a dynamic fire environment.

GOES-16 and GOES-17 frequently detect fires before they are spotted on the ground , which is particularly important in remote areas. Therefore, clouds affect the output of ground-based solar power generation systems. Because there was no adult seal around, the center went ahead and got authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to bring the newborn pups into the rehab center for care, she said. These satellites not only see the smoke generated by these fires but also use their infrared imaging capabilities to show where the hot spots from these fires are in real-time, pinpointing where and how intense a fire is. They also alert us to the presence of dangerous clouds and monitor ensuing severe weather conditions. So how can the solar industry determine how much sunlight their systems will get, monitor efficiency, and maintain a balance between power generation and consumption? The view from 22,300 miles above can help. The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR)-Smoke model produces forecasts of both surface and high-altitude smoke up to 48 hours into the future. But ideally, we try to give the pup time to reunite with its mom. The model, which is used by fire crews, first responders and air traffic controllers, builds on the existing High-Resolution Rapid Refresh weather model, which forecasts rain, wind and thunderstorms. Because NOAA’s GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-17 (GOES West) constantly watch over the same area of Earth and provide frequent, high-resolution data, they can communicate what types of clouds are present, how they are distributed in the sky, how much shadow they are creating over solar farms, and where they will move next.

It ingests real-time data captured by the JPSS satellites’ VIIRS instrument on the amount of heat released by the fire and combines that with vegetation maps to incorporate what’s burning. (Sage burns differently from Ponderosa Pine, for example. Optimizing solar energy production requires advanced knowledge of both the general likelihood and specific timing of both cloud cover and direct sunlight. In this case, she said, the first pup – a female who appeared to be just a couple days old – was too skinny, indicating she hadn’t been fed by her mother.) All of these measurements are mapped to a three-dimensional grid that extends nearly 12.5 miles into the atmosphere, producing detailed updates of the amount of smoke produced, the plume height and the direction the smoke is expected to move. Techniques for relating the observed clouds to characteristics of the environment such as temperature, moisture, vertical motion, and horizontal winds can help better inform models, leading to better cloud forecasts at multi-hour time scales, when the details of the currently-observed cloud field will have changed significantly. The benefits provided by the latest generation of NOAA satellites aren’t just seen during a fire but are important in monitoring the . Or, she said, the moms could have been young or sick and unable to take care of the babies.

Data from the satellites are helping forecasters monitor drought conditions, locate hot spots, detect changes in a fire’s behavior, predict a fire’s motion, monitor smoke and air quality, and monitor the post-fire landscape like never before. Frozen water molecules inside of high-altitude clouds can refract the sun’s light, which can in turn cause brighter-than-normal conditions on the ground compared to the darker blue skies of a clear day. Recent News .