"Fire Radiative Energy - a new remote sensing technique to support biomass burning emissions estimation"


Biomass burning is now recognised as a key component of the Earth system, contributing to atmospheric and Earth surface change. For example, it has been estimated that perhaps 30-40% of global CO2 emissions to the atmosphere may result from biomass burning, though such figures are uncertain due to the widespread, highly variable nature of wildfires. Satellite remote sensing is the only way to obtain better estimates of these emissions, and of the effects of wildfire on the land surface. Recently a new technique has been proposed to relate the amount of fuel burned and emissions produced more directly to the remote sensing observations, though measurement of the heat radiating from the actively burning fires. This so-called Fire Radiative Power (FRP) approach can be applied to geostationary imagery from the new SEVIRI sensor onboard the Meteosat Second Generation spacecraft. By calibrating radiated heat observations against ground-based measurements of biomass consumption in small-scale experimental fires, spaceborne FRP measurements can be used to estimate amounts of fuel consumed in natural wildfires. Therefore, for the first time, geostationary SEVIRI data can provide real-time estimates of biomass burning rates and totals for use in emissions assessment and plume atmospheric transport modelling.