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Paradise Fire

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26 October


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 Piper Navajo remote sensing aircraft

Fire Science

Wildfire Monitoring and Prediction
Fire Imaging

Paradise Fire, San Diego County
26 October 2003

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 (see chart below). 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.


Fire Area Map



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Fire Imagery

The following color-coded images depict apparent ground surface temperatures in Celsius. Roads, streams, and the text in the background are from a 1:250,000 topographic map.



These images were collected by sensors in a small aircraft flying in turbulent Santa Ana wind conditions, and slight shifts and rotations between images is to be expected. When the individual images are spliced together into a larger mosaic, errors in edge matching may result in duplication of some points near the seam, and the loss of others in the overlap area.

Do not depend on these images for accurate fireline locations. Use the map backgrounds as a general location guide, and look for recognizable terrain features or landmarks on the imagery itself for relative positioning of hotspots. Bodies of water, street grids, open fields, highways, ridgelines and stream courses show up well in this imagery.




Multi-pass mosaic image:
Ground surface temperatures as viewed from above at 11.9 micrometers wavelength on 26 October 2003, between 5:42 and 5:59 PM PST.

Link to download full-resolution thermal data in geoTIFF zip file.

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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: 2005-03-03