Glass Fire, September 27, 2020
Late in the evening on September 27, 2020 the Glass Fire ignited in the foothills of Napa Valley, California. The cause of the fire is still unknown. Within 24 hours it exploded to over 11,000 acres fueled by dehydrated soil and the drought-stricken landscape.
Within hours of the start of the fire, ECOSTRESS captured several hotspots near the fire's origin (represented by the brightest yellow spots on the map). Not only is it important to monitor the progress of the fire as it to help protect people and property, dense wildfire smoke can also damage crops. For this reason, it is important to track both the movement of the fire and local weather patterns to predict crop damage from smoke exposure.
Wildfires are common in this region of California, however this unseasonable fire ripped through the region with unusual speed and intensity. As wildfire behavior continues to adapt with Climate Change, images like this help scientists and farmers understand the impacts that the new fire season has on crops. This information is helpful in developing plans to increase agricultural resilience to climate change.
Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress, ECOSTRESS's primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like wildfires, heat waves, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station's unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.
The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.