GOES Live Fire Detection Layer
In response to the recent California fires, we’re launching a new, highly experimental layer: live fire detections from the GOES 17 (West) satellite.
GOES 16 and 17 are geostationary satellites positioned over the eastern US (16) and western US (17), streaming images back to Earth on a near-real-time basis. You’ve probably seen their imagery used for animated loops of hurricanes and other large-scale weather events. In addition to raw multi-spectral imagery, NOAA also releases a number of derived datasets, one of which is active fire detections. In the daytime, these fire detections are reported at 5 minute intervals.
The good news: Live updates. In addition to the satellite’s rapid update interval, the CalTopo map layer will auto-refresh to ensure you are always looking at the most current information, and the time of the last satellite image is displayed on the layer. For new or rapidly moving fires, this can be useful information to supplement between MODIS and VIIRS satellites passes from the “fire activity” layer.
The bad news: each pixel is roughly 2km by 2km, so the layer will only show larger fire activity. And an error of a single pixel is enough to place a fire over a mile off from its true location – this is not a layer that will give you insight down to the level of whether a specific neighborhood has burned. The “fire activity” layer is better for that use case, although even that is still a very imprecise tool that only reports approximate locations and is easy to over-interpret as having more precision than it does.
We are currently pulling data only from the GOES-17 (West) satellite, so the layer only provides coverage for the western US. We hope to integrate GOES-16 (East) soon, in addition to providing other GOES data such as imagery.
GOES has been on our “someday” task list for a while, but with the developing fires, the CalTopo team threw this layer together from scratch in under 72 hours. In normal times, we would spend considerably longer testing this layer internally, both to find bugs and adjust the way data is displayed. Be aware that there may be undiscovered bugs, and that the layer will likely undergo some significant changes in the next few weeks.
I know satellite imagery. I appreciate what you are trying to do, but without additional disclosure about what you can see see, what you can not see – This is a MARKETING ploy trying to put your foot in the door. What satelite imagery are you using – landsat? How frequency is the coverage? I also understand what you can and can not see. I think this should be removed. You are not helping anyone.
We appreciate the feedback, however all of the questions you ask are answered in the above post. This data comes from GOES satellites (GOES-17 specifically though we plan to add GOES-16) and the satellite data has an update cycle of 5 minutes. There is a minute delay for the data to dump from the satellite to the data bucket on Amazon, and about a 2 minute time period for us to pick up the data and process it and re-display the tiles. You’ll see the tiles update about every 8 minutes, the time stamp is clearly visible on the map and the time stamp is kept in sync with the data displayed. There is additional discussion of the spacial resolution of the data (2km) and if you load the layer on the map you’ll see in bright red warnings about interpretation of the data within the legend.
Any chance you’ll let us choose the location in the state, and adjust the zoom level? I wanted to see SC and LA.
I’m sorry I’m not sure I understand this question. The layer is live now but only pulling from GOES17 which covers the Western US only. I don’t think either Louisiana or the Carolinas is covered by 17, I think they are both on the other satellite which we plan to add at some point in the future. The current layer is live and showing active fire though so you can check if you are trying to check a specific area.