The goals

The goals are as follows:

a)      To increase user awareness by providing an improved understanding of the utility of satellite fire products for resource management and policy within the United Nations and at regional national and local levels.

One of the largest problems for satellite data users is to gain an understanding of the products that are available and how they can be used. This includes satellite data and information as well as data collected by more conventional means at the national and international level. Clearly a dialogue needs to be developed, providing feedback from users as to what is needed and from providers as to what they can deliver. Sharing data and information is prerequisite for effective global monitoring and will be one of the underpinnings of IGOS. Encouraging organizations and institutions to adopt a policy of open data sharing will be a primary challenge for GOFC/GOLD.

b)      To encourage the development and testing of standard methods for fire danger rating suited to different ecosystems and to enhance current fire early warning systems.

There are several fire danger rating systems currently in use around the World. There is a need to document these systems and to understand their reliability and the relationship between the different methods and their applicability to different fire and management regimes. Timely delivery of meteorological and satellite data at the appropriate spatial scale is an important prerequisite for operational fire risk mapping. This requires easy access data delivery systems and easy-to-operate models.

c)      To establish an operational network of fire validation sites and protocols, providing accuracy assessment for operational products and a testbed for new or enhanced products, leading to standard products of known accuracy.

For data products to be used in numerical models or in a decision-making framework it is important to understand the reliability and the accuracy of the products. Up until recently satellite fire products or national fire statistics have been generated with little or no indication of accuracy. Methods are currently being developed to determine the accuracy of national fire maps and the global and regional satellite products. This can involve comparison with other airborne or satellite products or by analysis of independent observations of known accuracy. Validation of global products is a labor intensive and costly activity and there are real advantages in cost and resource sharing between national and regional programs.

d)      To enhance fire product use and access by developing operational multi-source fire and GIS data and making these available over the Internet.

One of the obstacles to using satellite data is the availability of data products. Information on where to go to get data and how to read and interpret the products needs to be made more readily available. At present the data from different systems are provided by different means and in different formats. GOFC/GOLD is promoting ease of access to multiple archives and standard data formats. Similarly when the data are obtained they need to be readily combined with other geospatial data. The availability of WEB-GIS data will lead to an advance in current capability. Promoting affordable data for the common good will be an important message from GOFC/GOLD to the operational agencies and data providers.

e)      To develop an operational global geostationary fire network providing observations of active fires in near real time.

The diurnal cycle of fire activity means that polar orbiting satellite systems provide only a sample of the daily fire activity. In some regions fire are short-lived lasting no more than a couple of hours. In other systems fires will burn throughout the day. Geostationary systems providing frequent acquisitions give perhaps the best opportunity to detect active fires from space. However in the past, these systems have been limited by their spatial resolution. New generation geostationary systems with 1km spatial resolution or higher and with temporal resolutions of 15-30 minutes, provide an enhanced capability for operational monitoring. Developing an international network of geostationary satellites with standard products would provide an important advance for monitoring active fires.

f)       To establish operational polar orbiters with fire monitoring capability by providing i) operational moderate resolution long-term global fire products to meet user requirements and distributed ground stations providing enhanced regional products; ii) operational high resolution data acquisition allowing fire monitoring and post-fire assessments.

Moderate resolution polar orbiters have been used to develop the current suite of global products and will remain an important source of data provision. Ensuring that current and future operational sensors include the capability to detect fires is an important goal. The lead time between project concept, instrument design and operation is long and there is a need for a well articulated set of requirements. Polar orbiters  (e.g. AVHRR, MODIS, ATSR, VEGETATION, Landsat, ASTER) are currently being used for detecting active fires, mapping burned area, assessing fire susceptibility and estimating fire emissions. Improvements in these systems for fire monitoring can be envisioned and need to be shared with instrument design engineers and data providers. High resolution thermal and reflected data are needed to provide information at a finer spatial scale, for example to monitor and characterize active fires, to assess fire damage and to monitor post fire recovery. High resolution polar orbiters need to be moved into the operational domain for land monitoring and the data need to be made available at prices affordable to the user community. 

g)      To create emissions product suites, developed and implemented providing annual and near real-time emissions estimates with available input data.

The research community is starting to explore the use of satellite data in generating regional fire emissions. The combination of satellite time series data on the timing and areal extent of burning, dynamically modeled fuel load, indicators of vegetation state and ground based emission factors provide the basis for emission products. As part of the emission product suite, it will be important to provide the data inputs and an estimation of the output product accuracy.