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Star Fire

27 September
Post-fire mapping

29 August


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Star Fire, Eldorado National Forest
29 August 2001

As viewed by the FireMapper™ Thermal-Imaging Radiometer

Images were collected from the PSW Airborne Sciences Aircraft and disseminated in part by satellite communications in near-real time. FireMapper measures the radiance of emitted thermal-infrared light, which readily penetrates smoke. False-color images shown here depict the apparent surface temperature (in Celsius) as estimated from radiance and a simple black-body model. Warmer tones represent recent or active combustion; areas of gray are cooling ash or warm bare ground. Low temperatures of unburned forest and cool ground are shown in green. Images have been geographically referenced. Vertical exaggeration in 3-D views is 1.5 to one unless otherwise noted.

Location map:
Red Star ridge near French Meadows Reservoir

Click on the image above to view a larger JPEG image

Image 1:
Ground surface temperatures as viewed from the southwest at 14:15 local time. The primary fire run at the left is a crown fire. The cooler, narrower line at lower right is burning beneath the canopy of the coniferous forest. Note the reservoir and dam at right and cool riparian vegetation in the canyon below the dam. Temperature classes are as shown above.

Image 2:
Surface temperatures at 14:15 local time as viewed from the northeast.

Image 3:
Surface temperatures at 17:52 local time as viewed from the NE. This is the same view as in Image 2. Note the main fire line has crossed the ridge at center left and spot fires have grown along the ridge in the foreground.

Image 4:
Surface temperatures at 17:52 local time as viewed from above. This is the same data as shown in Image 3. Map views such as this can be created to give fire fighters exact coordinates of fire lines and spot fires and a comparative view of relative fire activity along different portions of the fire perimeter.

Image 5:
Mosaic of near-infrared light reflected from coniferous forest and smoke as viewed concurrently with Image 4. Here the obscuring effect of smoke is shown as a contrast to the fire information available at thermal-infrared wavelengths.

Image 6:
An air-attack view from the southwest at 14:15 local time shows the fire as it would appear from the perspective of an aircraft 200 meters above ground level. Generation of such images in nearly real-time could be useful in showing aircraft approaches and the relation of fire to terrain for planning actual fire retardant drops and for training flight crews. (This image has no vertical exaggaration.)

Image 7:
Post-fire, 3-D mosaic of digital aerial photography with reflected red light shown in magenta and reflected near-infrared light in green. Shown in this depiction are the resulting ash (with low near-infrared reflectance) and unburned forest (bright near-infrared reflectance) as viewed on 27 September 2001. Such data may aid in planning post-fire emergency rehabilitation of burned watersheds.

Image 8:
Active fire on 29 August 2001 as mapped from thermal-infrared imagery and a digital elevation model. This view corresponds to the post-fire scene in Image 7. Note that the crown fire at center-left does indeed correspond to an area of denuded forest in Image 7. Also compare the narrow fire line at the right of the dam with the remaining forest canopy in Image 7.


Archives of past fires: 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

Forest mapping: 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

FireMapper™ Specifications: Instrument

FireMapper™ References: Publications

FireMapper™ Tools- image analysis software: ftp downloads page

For Further Information: contact Dr. Philip J. Riggan


FireMapper™ has been developed through a Research Joint Venture with Space Instruments, Inc., and support from the National Fire Plan, Forest Service International Programs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Joint Fire Sciences Program, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Disclaimer: Trade names, commercial products, and enterprises are mentioned solely for information. No endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is implied.

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 Last Modified: 2005-03-01