Tracking Wildfires from Space

Friday, September 24, 2021

All the trees that top a sloping mountain ridge are on fire. Tree ridge in flames during the Woolsey Fire, California.
P. Buschmann/United States Forest Service/Wikimedia Commons
What can we learn about wildfires, and their extensive effects on our planet, from space?  

In 2020, approximately 4% of California’s land burned. Most states saw a 15% increase in the number of fires. Billions of dollars were spent on fire suppression and lost homes, power, and other infrastructure.    

Using OpenSpace data visualization software and wildfire data collected from NASA satellites, the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart and Natasha Stavros, director of Earth Lab Analytics Hub, will take viewers on a virtual flight to understand the natural behavior of fire across multiple scales–from our solar system to our home planet, as seen from the perspective of the International Space Station, and on continents, within local communities, and in a single household candle.  

Trace how trends in carbon emissions, temperature, wind, drought, and humidity paint a picture of today’s wildfires and suggest a path for curbing this dangerous extreme weather phenomena in the future. 

How to Watch

Join the YouTube livestream on Friday, September 24, at 2 pm ET. 

Resource for Educators:

CU CIRES Education and Outreach Megafire Data Puzzle


This is one of four programs presented by the Museum in conjunction with Climate Week NYC.