Remote Sensing and Fire Science

Science Center Objects

NOROCK science has developed capabilities for the remote sensing and evaluation of burns. Working with diverse institutions and individuals in fire science and information technology, we advance mutual interests of fire science partners by undertaking relevant research, and by disseminating findings through coordination and technology transfer. 

A burnt meadow.

Wildfires shape landscapes throughout the western United States. When a wildfire burns, people often think of the loss of green forests and, in some cases, loss of human life or property. Yet many plants and animals are adapted to fire. Thus, fire often is required to maintain healthy ecosystems. USGS scientists work to understand the role of fire as a natural process and its effects on soil, water, animals, plants, and people.

The ecological significance of wildfire is now recognized globally, and needs to monitor and predict variations due to fire are widely accepted. Goals to sustain natural systems and biodiversity, enhance habitat, and mitigate unnatural fuel buildups are tempered by potential impacts from global biomass burning, and risks to human life and property where developments encroach on large natural areas. Required levels of information are often difficult to obtain, however, especially where fire size, remoteness and rugged terrain impede direct observation of burned areas. Thus, land managers increasingly must turn to remote sensing technologies to extend knowledge and quantify the role of fire in today's ecosystems. To those ends, a functional methodology to assess burn impacts is crucial; and efficient, conventional procedures are needed for integrative study. 


Current Projects


Past Projects