Data: MODIS Wildfire Detection Data

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Modis Fire Data Gila WildernessMany of our state maps provide wildfire data. These are all extracts from the USDA Forest Service, Remote Sensing Applications Center, MODIS data collected from 2005 through 2014. This was originally near-real-time data where active fires are detected by satellite. These data are collected at a spatial resolution of 1 kilometer and therefore are only approximate.

Detections are provided as the centroids of these 1 kilometer pixels and compiled into historical coverages. Identification of a MODIS pixel as “fire” does not necessarily mean that the 1 Sq. Km. area represented by the pixel is fully on fire. The identification of a fire can be the result of a hot fire in a relatively small area or a cooler fire over a larger area. Very large fires show multiple points. Fires as small as 100 square meters burning at a temperature of 1500 degrees Farenheit may be detected by MODIS. However, cloud cover above the fire, or, the position of the fire on the terrain relative to the location of the MODIS sensor may preclude the ability for detection.

The image shows a detail of this national dataset for a section of NM’s Gila Wilderness that was devastated by wildfires in 2012 and 2013. These fires severely damaged Gila Trout habitat, destroying a number of restored and aboriginal populations. Across most of the west, you should always check fire impacts before planning a back country trip. Valley streams can also be severely affected by fire-damaged tributaries emptying ash and debris into what are normally pristine trout streams. If you find fire activity where you wish to go fishing, it’s a good idea to check with objective locals such as regional fish biologists for the Forest Service (you can usually find them on Google). While you’re at it, you can also ask about access and trail conditions. In my experience, local fly shops and guides tend to minimize fire damage and are not reliable sources for this information (as they lose business if you decide not to travel to their location).