August 17, 2012 - The smoky haze has lifted over Northern California, Nevada and Idaho, revealing the many fires afflicting the region in this latest image from the Suomi NPP satellite, taken on August 16th, 2012.
The "afternoon orbit" of Suomi NPP, along with its sister satellites NOAA-19 and NASA Aqua, are specifically designed to pass over the United States during the peak of the afternoon when wildfires are usually at their most intense of the day, providing timely, high resolution updates when firefighters need them the most.
Not only is the afternoon orbit critical for fire weather information, but it is also important for understanding severe weather intensification such as in tornadoes and hurricanes, as the highest amount of convection typically occurs in the late afternoon.
Fires on August 15. Image credit NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab
As wildfires ignite, shift, and are eventually extinguished, NOAA's satellites are providing round-the-clock monitoring of wildfire locations and intensities.
This image shows some of the 11,365 wildfire targets identified by NOAA and NASA satellites from August 10-15, 2012 over North America.
Each tiny red pixel represents one fire target detected over those 144 hours. The infrared sensors on the GOES, POES, Aqua/Terra, and Suomi NPP satellites can detect the heat emitted by wildfires and map their locations with greater than 1 kilometer accuracy.
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