The FIREsIdE International Collaboration: FIre Radiative powEr validation, Intercomparison & fire emissions Estimation

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


The FIre Radiative powEr Intercomparison & Emissions estimation (FIREsIdE) project is a multi-lateral international collaborative effort focused around the requirement to accurately assess the impacts that smoke emissions from landscape fires have on the composition of Earth's atmosphere, and how this can be quantified and monitored globally using satellite Earth Observation (EO). The project objectives revolve around the standardization and intercomparison of fire radiative power (FRP) measurements made from the increasing number of appropriately equipped EO satellites launched by national (e.g. USA, Germany) and International (European) Space Agencies, and the use of a dedicated field campaign to provide the first field validaiton of these measures alongside the measurements of the so-called 'emissions factors' that are required to turn these FRP measurements into estimates of the actual smoke emissions to the atmosphere. Whilst the UK has be at the forefront of exploring the FRP approach to biomass burning emissions estimation, until now we have had to rely on a single set of US polar orbiting satellites (Terra and Aqua) to supply the data used to make these measurements. This is no longer the case, with a series of new satellites equipped to make these measurements recently being launched, or being launched in the coming year. This includes the European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-3 mission, in which the UK is taking a leading role with the SLSTR instrument and for which PI Wooster has developed the active fire algorithm and is the Mission Validation Scientist for the fire products. Our project leverages technical and scientific expertise from the groups leading the US and German missions, and will use it to ensure optimum FRP measurements are delivered from SLSTR, to make these measurements as consistent as possible with those of the other satellite instruments, and develop a framework where multiple observations can be combined together despite coming from different instruments. Finally, we will use a unique opportunity offered via the collaboration with the South African National Parks Service to provide satellite validation and emissions factor measurement opportunities at large, carefully planned landscape scale fires conducted multiple times per year within Kruger National Park. The work by PI Wooster and Co-I Roberts performed within the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) has been focused on this topic at the global scale, and that by PI Wooster conducted under the NERC SAMBBA (South American Biomass Burning Analysis) NERC responsive mode consortium grant (NE/J010502/1; 2012-1016) is focused specifically on the Brazilian Amazon. This International Opportunities Fund Pump Priming + project builds on both these activities, and specifically on the use of satellite EO methods to provide consistent, well-calibrated and validated biomass burning observations and emissions calculations.

Planned Impact

Who could potentially benefit.

- International and National Space Agencies, and the engineers developing future missions targeting active fires. Fire product algorithm developers.

- Users of the active fire detections and FRP information worldwide, for example fire managers and those involved in natural resource management in
fire prone ecosystems.

- Those fire response personnel working with active fire data for early warning purposes.

- The Copernicus Atmosphere Service developers (e.g. ECMWF) and the users of the Service.

- Governmental organisations responsible for IPCC reporting and those undertaking REDD+ projects that will use satellite data on fires or fire emisisons.

b. How might the potential beneficiaries benefit?

Space agencies and the associated engineering companies developing missions targeted at active fire observations will directly benefit from this collaborative action, most notably and directly the ESA (Sentinel-3) and NASA/NOAA (VIIRS on NPOESS). EUMETSAT will also benefit through feed in by Wooster and Roberts to the Meteosat Third Generation Programme, which also has an active fire product planned and which will be launched soon after the completion of this project.

Other beneficiaries will be those many hundreds of users worldwide working with active fire and FRP data for understanding fire patterns, undertaking fire management (e.g. fire early warning) and also working with methods to adjust GHG emissions via fire regime alteration. This is both in terms of the enhanced active fire products, their harmonisation and validation, and also via improvements in our understanding of the emissions factors that must be combined with the FRP data to convert the measurements into emissions estimates.

Furthermore, policy makers, science mission planners, those recipients of air quality forecasts and all other users of the outputs of atmospheric monitoring services such as the Copernicus Atmosphere Service, into which the benefits from this project will flow via the improved and validated FRP products and the associated emissions factors, will be downstream beneficiaries.

The IPCC and the African governmental organisations reporting GHG emissions to them will also benefit through the improvements in emissions quantification. Furthermore, those involved in REDD+ initiatives, for example in Miombo woodlands across southern Africa, that aims to 'establish an incentive mechanism to reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conserve and enhance forest carbon stocks, and promote sustainable forest management' (UNFCCC, 2011) will also benefit. Downstream beneficiaries of the REDD+ programme, including both conservationists and those working in poverty reduction, stand to ultimately gain.


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Brownlow R (2017) Isotopic Ratios of Tropical Methane Emissions by Atmospheric Measurement in Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Description Sentinel-3 has been successfully launched and we have now developed a plan for calibration of the fire product. This plan has now started to be implemented, including with measurements made in Kruger Park piloted under this award. We have also confirmed that the measurement are compatible with those from Terra MODIS to which Sentinel-3 will ultimately take over as the global provider or morning and mid-evening active fire information.
Exploitation Route Development of and validation of operational Sentinel-3 SLSTR algorithm
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment

Description A number of papers have been published in academic literature related to the research outcomes achieved to date and these will principally benefit academic researchers with interests in quantifying landscape fire activity using satellite data and in estimating fire emissions. Those academics developing active fire products (University of Maryland: L. Giglio, W. Schroeder) will also benefit through improved understanding of factors that impact FRP retrieval. PI involvement with the GOFC-GOLD Fire Implementation Team (Wooster) and CEOS Land Product Validation Active Fire focus area (Roberts) provides a mechanism for disseminating these findings to academic and non-academic scientists concerned with EO fire science. Non-academic beneficiaries include the European Space Agency (ESA), developers of Sentinel-3, through the validation and improved understanding of the Sentinel-3 Active fire product. This information is disseminated to ESA project managers via PI Wooster. Users of active fire data products will also benefit from this activity which will also help inform the active fire validation protocol being developed by Roberts as the CEOS LPV Active Fire focus area co-chair. Fire managers ( '123Fire') who are concerned with emission mitigation schemes will benefit through the improved understanding of the seasonality of fire emissions factors.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment
Description Leverhulme Trust Research Center in Wildfires, Environment and Society
Amount £100,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 08/2029
Description New satellite observations to improve monitoring and forecasting of severe smoke pollution over SE Asia caused by Indonesian landscape burning
Amount £125,708 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S003029/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2021
Description Copernicus Atmosphere Service 
Organisation European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting ECMWF
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Member of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Development Team
Collaborator Contribution We are in a partnership of 4 institutions to develop the next stage of the global fire assimilation system (GFAS) that feeds data into the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service
Impact Developments that will become an operational part of the GFAS system, delivering fire emissions to the CAMS system that are updated globally every day.
Start Year 2016
Description Development of the SLSTR operational products 
Organisation European Space Agency
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We are collaborating with a number of partners within an ESA programme to develop the operational products from the Sentinel-3 SLSTR instrument. We are helping with the ability of the cloud masking scheme to avoid smoke being mistakenly classed as cloud.
Collaborator Contribution They are developing the cloud-masking scheme.
Impact New cloud masking algorithms.
Start Year 2015