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|ATSR World Fire Atlas: World fire maps now available online in near-real time
|For a decade now, ESA satellites have been continuously surveying fires burning across the Earthâ€™s surface. Worldwide fire maps based on this data are now available to users online in near-real time through ESA's ATSR World Fire Atlas.
|The ATSR World Fire Atlas (WFA) â€“ the first multi-year global fire atlas ever developed â€“ provides data approximately six hours after acquisition and represents an important scientific resource because fire is a major agent of environmental change.
"The atlas is an excellent resource that provides a glimpse of the world that was not previously possible, and which is certain to allow ecologists to address both new and old questions regarding the role of fire in structuring the natural world," Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Tennesseeâ€™s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology said.
More than 50 million hectares of forest are burnt annually, and these fires have a significant impact on global atmospheric pollution, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. In the past decade researchers have realised the importance of monitoring this cycle. In fact, WFA data are currently being accessed mostly for atmospheric studies.
There are now over 200 registered users accessing the ATSR WFA. The data are being used in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia for research in atmospheric chemistry, land use change, global change ecology, fire prevention and management and meteorology.
In addition to maps, the time, date, longitude and latitude of the hot spots are provided. The database covers 1995 to present, but complete yearly coverage begins from 1997.
The WFA data are based on results from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) on ESAâ€™s ERS-2 satellite, launched in 1995, and the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) on ESAâ€™s Envisat satellite, launched in 2002.
The ATSR WFA is an ESA internal and Data User Programme (DUP) project.