Utilization of Remote Sensing and Atmospheric Modeling to Determine Dynamics of 2010 Russian Forest Fires

EarthzineDEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Original

Image showing intensity of Russian wildfires

A burn scar image over the Nizhny Novgorod region in western Russia taken on Oct. 8, 2010. Areas in red denote burned land area. This image was generated by compositing bands 7, 4, and 2 of NASA and USGS Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper+ data.

A burn scar image over the Nizhny Novgorod region in western Russia taken on Oct. 8, 2010. Areas in red denote burned land area. This image was generated by compositing bands 7, 4, and 2 of NASA and USGS Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper+ data.

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center

Authors: Derek Doddridge, Jonathan Wilson, Kathryn Morel, Kenneth Hall, Katie Overbey, Shalika Gupta, David Arczynski, Raven Moreland

Advisors/Science Mentors: Dr. Richard Ferrare, Jamie Favors

Abstract: During the summer of 2010, the Russian Federation experienced a series of severe and sustained forest fires. The damages from the fires were estimated to cost $15 billion (U.S.), and approximately 56,000 people were thought to have died as a result of the heat wave and fires. The primary cause of this disaster was partially attributed to the unusually high temperatures and low rainfall during the summer of 2010. However, other anthropogenic factors, such as the drainage of peat bogs for energy consumption in the 1960s and the abolishment of the Russian National Fire Service in 2002, also contributed to the extensive spread and intensity of the fires. An analysis of the causes and effects of these fires could help policy makers across the globe, facing similar situations, to prevent and assess severe forest fires. First, a case study was performed using remotely sensed data and atmospheric modeling to better understand the origins, characteristics, and impacts of the 2010 Russian forest fires. In addition, this study provided a methodology for predicting forest fires and analyzing their dynamics and effects on both humans and the environment using easily accessible remote sensing data, along with various models. Landsat 7 ETM+ analyzed in ArcGIS was used to create a burn scar map to better understand the extent of the blaze. MODIS was used to assess aerosol optical depth and this data was then correlated to the carbon monoxide levels in regions within proximity of the fires. CALIPSO and models including HYSPLIT were used to assess smoke plume characteristics such as vertical distribution of particulate matter and direction of transport. Furthermore, climatological data was analyzed to evaluate factors such as temperature, soil moisture, wind speed, visibility, and other conditions relating to the spread and overall effects of the fires. This study integrated multiple NASA technologies and obtained results that can be applied to numerous global concerns.

Video transcript available here.