TITLE: Observing, Fighting and Mitigating Damage from Wildfires
SPEAKER: Compton Tucker
EVENT DATE: 10/17/2007
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 43 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Satellites are making it possible to observe, investigate and understand wildfires in ways that are impossible from the ground. What are they showing us? In an illustrated presentation at the Library of Congress, a NASA scientist explains the profound effect of fires on Earth's natural systems and methods used to better manage these fires.
Compton J. Tucker discussed "Observing, Fighting and Mitigating Damage from Wildfires" in a program sponsored by the Science, Technology and Business Division.
According to Tucker, wildfires play a central role in Earth's ecosystems. They affect plant and animal habitat, air and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions and human lives. Globally, fires may contribute to climate change, emitting both greenhouse gases and smoke particles into the atmosphere. These emissions have played a role in the 0.5 degree Celsius increase in Earth's average surface temperature over the past 100 years.
By using digital imagery collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite, scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland have been mapping wildfire activity for the entire surface of the planet every day since February 2000. Never before have scientists had the opportunity to map fires across the entire Earth with such detail, accuracy and frequency.
Satellite imagery enables scientists to assess risks and reduce hazards; support active fire fighting; study and monitor fire effects; quantify the flux of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from biomass burning; restore fire-dependent ecosystems; and provide information for management policies and practices.
Speaker Biography: Compton Tucker is a senior earth scientist in the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Since 1980 he has used satellite data to study deforestation, habitat fragmentation, desert boundary determination, ecologically coupled diseases, terrestrial primary production and climate's effect on global vegetation. He has authored or coauthored more than 140 journal articles.