This is an article from the Summer 2015 VPS. For more VPS articles, click here
Project Team: Southern California Disasters II
Team Location: NASA Stennis Space Center – Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
Joseph Spruce (NASA Stennis Space Center)
James ÛÏDocÛ Smoot (NASA Stennis Space Center)
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program)
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has multiple programs in place which monitor post-fire burn severity. These programs primarily utilize Landsat imagery to produce burn severity indices which provide widely-used wildfire damage assessment tools to decision-makers. When the Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) is launched, its hyperspectral resolution will support new methods for assessing natural disaster impacts on ecosystems, including wildfire damage to forests. Since it is critical to evaluate and understand the capabilities and limitations of this satellite prior to its proposed launch date in 2022, NASA conducted an airborne campaign to simulate HyspIRI data starting in 2013 and continuing into 2015. HyspIRI data were simulated from co-located Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) sensors aboard a NASA ER-2 aircraft. A NASA DEVELOP project completed in the summer of 2014 qualitatively compared burn indices calculated using simulated HyspIRI data to those produced using Landsat. This project expanded upon those efforts using simulated HyspIRI data to study three southern California fires from 2013 and 2014: Aspen, French, and King. Burn severity indices were calculated from the data and the results were quantitatively compared to the USFS products currently in use. The final results from this project indicate how HyspIRI data may be used in the future to enhance assessment of fire-damaged areas and provide additional monitoring tools for decision-support to agencies such as the USFS.