NASA Satellites Are Mapping California’s Wildfires from Space

Raging wildfires continue in California – including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in Northern California, which has now become one of the deadliest in the state’s history. NASA satellites are watching these fires – and the damage they’re causing – from space.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is home to the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team, who produced new damage maps via synthetic aperture radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites.

The first map portrays areas likely damaged by the Woolsey Fire as of Sunday, Nov. 11. It covers an area that spans approximately 50 miles by 25 miles (80 km by 40 km) – framed by the red polygon. The colour variation from yellow to red shows increasing ground surface change or damage.

The second map depicts damage from the Camp Fire in Northern California as of Saturday, Nov. 10. It portrays an area of approximately 55 miles by 48 miles (88 km by 77 km) and includes the city of Paradise, one of the most damaged regions. Just like the map of the Woolsey Fire, the red areas on this map show the most severe surface change or damage. The ARIA team compared the data for both images to the Google Crisis map as a preliminary validation.

The maps may be less reliable over vegetated terrains, such as farmland, they can still help officials and first responders detect profoundly damaged areas and allocate the necessary resources.

For more information about ARIA click here.


Image Credit: Krista Kennell / Shutterstock


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