Imaging -- PSW
is developing new technology to monitor the progress and intensity
of major wildland fires and their impacts on the environment.
Remote sensing instruments now used in fire operations are
deployed - and thus may not be readily available to a given incident - or
lack the dynamic range necessary to measure the very bright infrared
light emitted from major wildfires. New technology is needed
to measure the intensity and dynamics of fire fronts - properties
that affect the rate of fire spread, smoke production, and forest
damage - and make fire information readily and widely available.
PSW is now flying the FireMapper thermal-imaging
radiometer to map and monitor major wildfires in partnership
with the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region. Based on
modern night-vision technology, the FireMapper is designed to
accurately map fire intensity and provide fire intelligence to
improve firefighter safety, make fire fighting more effective,
and reduce wildfire damage to natural resources and society. Imaging
with the FireMapper system is also being tested for use in burned-area
rehabilitation. FireMapper and associated mapping cameras are
deployed aboard the PSW Airborne Sciences Aircraft, N70Z, which
is a twin engine Piper Navajo.
PSW is using high-quality digital cameras (sensitive to the visible
and near-infrared spectrum) to monitor forest health. Filters
are employed to differentiate between the strong infrared reflectance
of healthy vegetation and the strong red reflectance of dead
vegetation. Diseased, stressed, or scorched vegetation has weaker
infrared reflectance than healthy vegetation.
Mapping areas of dead and
dying vegetation provides vital support for agencies working
to assess and mitigate fire danger.