Department of Meteorology


Wildfires are a dominant influence on the biome, controlling forest successional patterns, primary productivity, and carbon cycling.  They also inject large amounts of trace gases and smoke aerosol into the atmosphere, both of which influence the Earth’s radiation balance.  Considering the remoteness and vast extent of the forest ecosystem, satellite remote sensing is particularly well suited to documenting the spatial and temporal distribution of fires so that their impact may be quantified. Dr. Li and his former colleagues in Canada developed an operational system composed of a suite of algorithms that can detect fire hot spots, map fire burned scars, monitor fire smoke, and model fire emissions.  This pioneering system was commercialized and has been employed at the Canadian Forest Services and at NOAA.  More details can be found at: