NASA’s Terra Satellite Images the Destructive Kincaid Fire in Sonoma County, California

Sonoma County Kincaid Fire

NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

Update 10/28/19: There is a New Satellite Image of California’s Kincaid Fire.

NASA’s Terra satellite captured an image of the Kincaid wildfire located in Northern California’s Sonoma County which broke out on Wednesday night, October 23, 2019, and has grown to over 20,000 acres in less than 48 hours. This natural-color image was taken on October 24, 2019, by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument on the Terra satellite. It pinpoints the area of the fire which is located in the scenic wine country of northern California and has forced the evacuation of over 2,000 people so far.

The wind and low humidity have contributed to the swift movement of the fire in such a short amount of time growing to 10,000 acres in a matter of hours. The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation. Pacific Gas and Electric has cut power to a half million residents to avoid more wildfire outbreaks as humidity drops and winds pick up. Some gusts have been reported at up to 70 mph (113 kph). The fire is only 5% contained at present. Structures and power lines are threatened by this blaze and firefighters are continuing to construct containment lines. CA Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports that 49 structures have been destroyed.

NASA’s satellite instruments are often the first to detect wildfires burning in remote regions, and the locations of new fires are sent directly to land managers worldwide within hours of the satellite overpass. Together, NASA instruments detect actively burning fires, track the transport of smoke from fires, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of changes to ecosystems, based on the extent and severity of burn scars. NASA has a fleet of Earth-observing instruments, many of which contribute to our understanding of fire in the Earth system. Satellites in orbit around the poles provide observations of the entire planet several times per day, whereas satellites in a geostationary orbit provide coarse-resolution imagery of fires, smoke, and clouds every five to 15 minutes.

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now.” Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points.

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