Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mapping 2015 Indonesian Fires

Image 1. SWIR view of fires burning in South Sumatra, Indonesia. Sept 23, 2015
(Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Indonesia has been experiencing an extended period of uncontrolled fires. Western Sumatra and Kalimantan have been hit particularly hard. Flammable peat soil (a characteristic of the local environment) and a warm climate (record global highs, el nino year) have led to difficulties in putting the fires out as they continue to burn. Slash and burn methods have also been blamed as a fire contributor. The fires are sure to have many repercussions in Indonesia and beyond: on the global economy, the local environment and wildlife. The fires have even been called 'a crime against humanity' (Sutopo Puro Nugroho to the Guardian) as the South Asian region experiences issues with increased pollution, Malaysia and Singapore in particular.

Image 2. TET-1 image is shown over MODIS
(lower-resolution) for Sept. 24th in Indonesia. Yellow,
orange, and red areas indicate detected fires.

 Scientists have been observing both the intensity and damage of the fires. In Image 1, areas aflame are depicted in red. A good portion of this image is obscures by smoke (blue), however it might help indicate where the fires are heading and what might burn next. While Images 2 and 3, make distinctions between the intensity and locating hotspots in the larger regions. TET-1 (German satellite) provides a higher resolution image for the region in comparison to the MODIS (NASA) imagery. Image 3 shows the differences between hotspots MODIS data and the intensity of the fire provided by the German satellite in larger scale imagery. 
Image 3. Analytical differences seen between TET-1 (intensity)
 and MODIS (hotspots) imagery.

Contributor: Veronica Plum

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