New satellite technology, modified by King’s researchers,
is set to spot fires significantly earlier then currently
possible – potentially enabling quicker suppression efforts.
Experts from the European FirEUrisk project have called
for empowering populations through education on fire
prevention and timely decision-making to save lives during
extreme wildfires. However, a new satellite being modified
by King’s researchers is set to automate the detection process,
potentially detecting fires before the public.
Due to the high population density of Europe, most fires are
called in by the public before satellites can spot them.
The new European Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellite,
however, provides updated imagery over Europe every 10 minutes
and at a level of spatial detail that was previously only
available a few times a day.
This capacity may allow new fires to be spotted significantly
earlier than is currently the case, perhaps even earlier than
the public. King’s is also working on ways to make this
process even faster, to the point where automatic detection is possible.
Our team at King’s is one of the premier groups worldwide
doing this kind of work, and we have every expectation that
with this new capability from the MTG satellite, we can help
deliver a step change in the use of satellites – and provide
real-time information on fires burning across Europe and the UK.
Professor Martin Wooster, Professor of Earth Observation Science
The researchers are also working on ways to estimate, from these data,
how much smoke is being emitted into the atmosphere as a result
of the detected fires. This would enable more accurate warnings
of poor air quality – prior to fires becoming so intense that
suppression methods have limited effectiveness.
King’s is one of the partners working on the FirEUrisk project,
which connects with authorities at the local, national, and European
scale, to improve decision-making and also to help inform the public,
through scientific research and specific tools to evaluate fire risk.
In addition to building tools for strategic decisions on fire behaviour,
the project is now encouraging citizen involvement when it comes
to saving lives during wildfires. This is because wildfires are
becoming ever more extreme – to the point where firefights and
firefighting resources are no longer enough.
We now face more fires in spring, in March and April, and the season
is also extending to late summer, even autumn, with fires burning
through late September, October and sometimes even in
November. Dr Domingos Xavier Viegas, FirEUrisk coordinator
King’s College London
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System