Seeing Wildfires via Google Earth

Google, the U.S. Forest Service, and NASA have teamed up to make sure that people all over the world can see one of the largest forest fires in history via their personal computers.

The United States Forest Service is now providing information from NASA’s MODIS satellite via Google Earth. The image depicted here is of the Los Conchas wildfire, which is now larger than the size of Washington, D.C. Internet users can see some of the most up-to-date information regarding the fire via Google Earth. Information such as what direction the fire is spreading and in what timeframe is clearly marked by color-coding on a topographical grid map of the area.

While the image isn’t the clearest (it would be very difficult, given the circumstances, after all to have a clear image of the terrain) the satellite images provide those who live in the area and who have evacuated, as well as others who have loved ones in the area, with accurate and fairly detailed information. According to the United States Forest Service’s website, “MODIS, AVHRR and GOES fire detections by time/date of occurrence within the last 6, 12 and 24 hours, and the 6 days previous to the last 24-hour period.” Viewers can also see fire radiative power data, large incidents (fires), fire weather conditions, areas of significant fire potential, and an AFM KML bundle (a single KML—keyhole markup language, the format used to interpret and display mapping data by Google Earth and similar programs—containing all available KMLs provided by the Active Fire Mapping Program for each geographic area).

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