The public dataset combines satellite imagery with weather forecasts and topographic detail
Spotted: More than three million acres of land have burned in California during the 2020 fire season. The state’s fire service, Cal Fire, lists nearly 8,000 separate incidents this year alone, with many still active. As climate change continues to have an impact on the natural ebb and flow of the area’s fires, a collaboration between Salo Sciences, Planet, Vibrant Planet, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is more timely than ever. The Forest Observatory uses AI satellite imaging combined with detailed laser scanning to monitor the current risk of forest wildfires. Previously, most satellite data was up to three years old.
The combined data provides detail down to the level of individual trees and allows firefighting teams to observe vegetation growth while tracking current weather conditions. That knowledge massively increases teams’ ability to predict what will burn, and where and how quickly, further improving their firefighting capabilities.
The data is free to use non-commercially, and researchers can click to share, download and alter maps as needed. Layers of the map are stackable, with the algorithm providing information by county, community and watershed. Further development of the platform includes additional layers of data, such as tree mortality, and expanding the map to other parts of the world.
Written by: Keely Khoury