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M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
Dr. Tighe has a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences, a graduate degree in Remote Sensing and GIS, and a B.Sc. in Physics and Geology. Dr. Tighe has delivered lectures ranging from a half day workshop to a 4 week training program to over 2000 participants in USA, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, … More »

Coahuila, Mexico Fire Disaster

November 5th, 2013 by M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD

While at the ASPRS “Imaging and Mapping for Disaster Management: From the Individual to the Global Community” I attended many excellent talks about remotely-sensed solutions for disaster management.  An excellent presentation, given jointly by Rohini Swaninathan (NASA Intern) and Pedro Juan Rodriguez Rivera, reported on the use of freely available, satellite-based, remote sensing technologies and GIS solutions to help identify hotspots of large fires burning in Mexico. This project was prompted because of the 2011 fire in Coahuila, Mexico, where nearly 100,000 hectares of land were burned, costing the Mexican government to spend over 19 million US dollars. This fire represents the largest amount of land burned in a single fire in Mexico and took weeks to be extinguished.

Using NASA’s Earth observations, including Landsat 5’s Thematic Mapper (TM), Aqua’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) a project was created to provide a detailed analysis of the effects of forest fires in this region. This project was a collaboration of several Mexican agencies, including the Secretariat of Natural Resources, as well as the Environment (SEMARNAT) and the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED). The US FARSITE  and the Canadian Prometheus fire growth simulation models coupled with fuel, topography, and weather condition parameters were used to compute fire behavior and spread outputs. Additionally, the project developed fire risk maps combining multiple parameters such as elevation, slope, aspect, land use, proximity to roads, and settlements. In absence of available in situ data for use in the model validation, the Landsat TM and Aqua MODIS data products were used to create burn scar maps. The MODIS hotspot data has smoothed over the state of Coahuila, over the past 13 years, using density estimation techniques which were also used to validate the fire risk maps.

Knowledge gained in this project was published using web-mapping services such as Google fusion table, providing the ability to enhance Coahuila’s wildfire mitigation and assessment capabilities. Such remote sensing techniques are required to assess fire hazard potential globally!

Intermap®’s RiskPro™ hazard web-based software integrates similar data types and uses robust fire hazard modeling techniques to provide insight into the potential for fire hazard for regions across the globe. Such analysis available via web-based software provides a better understanding of fire behavior and spread outputs that allow for the development of better fire mitigation strategies.

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Category: Geospatial Reflection

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