Interface 2003

Satellite to the Public in Near Real-Time: Providing Active Wildfire Information with MODIS Rapid Response
Mark Finco, (RedCastle Resources / USDA Forest Service),,
Brad Quayle, (USDA Forest Service),,
Rob Sohlberg, (University of Maryland),, and
Jacques Descloitres, (Goddard Space Flight Center),


Over the past several years, severe wildfire seasons have become the norm in the United States. When many large wildfires burn simultaneously, fire fighting assets often need to be shared between geographic areas of the country. The MODIS Rapid Response (RR) system is a collaborative effort between the US Forest Service (USFS), NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Maryland, which delivers near real-time active fire locations to wildfire managers. Twice daily, RR provides maps of active fires over the contiguous United States and Alaska. This “big picture” with respect to spatial extent and juxtaposition of wildfires is an important information asset for the allocation of finite fire fighting resources. This paper describes the heterogeneous computing environment that is RR, including how multiple sources of satellite data are used synergistically and how this data is delivered as maps on the Internet.

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