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STAR AI Products Fundamental to Improving Wildfire Detection and Response Time

February 29, 2024

Wildfires have gained national attention because of recent activity in Hawaii, California, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and throughout the Western U.S. The importance of improving wildfire detection and response is supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. While firefighters, land management agencies, emergency managers, local officials, and frontline communities are working vigilantly to fight wildfires and save lives, more observations are needed to detect fires earlier for these first responders. With the rate at which wildfires spread, detection time can make the difference between a small brush fire and an uncontrollable wildfire. 

STAR scientists, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Pavolonis, the NESDIS Wildland Fire Program Manager, are putting satellite observations and artificial intelligence (AI) to the test to increase detection and response time. GOES-R geostationary satellites are constantly collecting data that can become even more powerful with AI tools such as the Next Generation Fire System (NGFS) and the LightningCast AI model, which were developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin/Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). The NGFS enables early detection of wildfires, while LIghtningCast is routinely used to keep fire crews safe when severe weather threatens. The combination of satellite data and AI is an increasingly important part of the equation to fight wildfires and manage the response.

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