THE CEOS DATABASE : Missions, Instruments and Measurements
DomainTerrestrialDescriptionFires have impact on several identified radiative forcing agents. While they can be a natural part of many ecosystems they contribute to the build-up of carbon dioxide through deforestation fires, tropical peatland fires, and areas that see an increase in the fire return interval. They also emit methane and are a major source of aerosols, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen, impacting local and regional air quality. Estimates of greenhouse-gas emissions due to fire are essential for realistic modelling of climate and its critical component, the global carbon cycle. Fires caused deliberately for land clearance (agriculture and ranching) or accidentally (lightning strikes and human error) are a major factor in land-cover variability and change, and hence affect fluxes of energy and water to the atmosphere. [GCOS-195 6.3.15]
Full NameFire disturbance
Satellite Signficant ContributionYes
GCOS Actions
DescriptionWhoTime FramePerformance IndicatorCost Implications
Reanalyse the historical fire disturbance satellite data (1982 to present).Space agencies, working with research groups coordinated by GOFC-GOLD.By 2012.Establishment of a consistent dataset, including the globally available 1km AVHRR data record.1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
Continue generation of consistent burnt area, active fire, and FRP products from low orbit satellites, including version intercomparisons to allow un-biased, long-term record development.Space agencies, in collaboration with GOFC-GOLD.ContinuousAvailability of data.1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
Develop and apply validation protocol to fire disturbance data. Who: Space agencies and research organizations.Space agencies and research organizations.By 2012.Publication of accuracy statistics.1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
Make gridded burnt area, active fire, and FRP products available through links from a single International Data Portal.Coordinated through GOFC-GOLD.ContinuousContinued operation of the GFMC and the development of the Data Portal.<1M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
Develop set of active fire and FRP products from the global suite of operational geostationary satellites.Through operators of geostationary systems, via CGMS, GSICS, and GOFC-GOLD.ContinuousAvailability of products.1-10M US$ (Mainly by Annex-I Parties).
*GCOS-195 Status Categories: Category A: Action completed, perhaps exceeding reasonable expectations. Very good progress on ongoing tasks. Category B: Action largely completed according to expectation. Good progress on ongoing tasks. Category C: Moderate progress overall, although progress may be good for some part of the action. Category D: Limited progress overall, although progress may be moderate or good for some part of the action. Category E: Very little or no progress, or deterioration rather than progress.
GCOS Products
Related Measurements/
from CEOS DB
T.10Maps of burnt area, supplemented by active-fire maps and fire-radiative powerBurnt area
Active Fire Maps
FRP (polar-orbiting platform)
FRP (Geostationary platform)
Fire area
Fire temperature
Active Fire Detection
CEOS Response[T35 (T.10)]

2015 Update: This action was discussed at the 2014 GOFC-GOLD Fire Implementation Team meeting in College Park, MD, and it was agreed it was more beneficial for stakeholders to focus on ensuring future continuity with the MODIS data record. The rescue of the 1-km AVHRR data record is overarching issue. Agencies should make a coordinated data rescue effort (including HRPT from various DB operators), which would be the pre-requisite for generating a 1km-based fire data record. There have been some previous efforts, such as using USGS and NOAA archives, but none of these appear to be complete.

The Fire_cci project is developing monthly global burnt area maps prototyped on the period 1981-2015 (AVHRR, MERIS, VGT, Proba-V, MODIS, Sentinel-3, as well as Sentinel-2 for small fires in Africa). In perennially cloud covered areas complementary information derived from SAR is included.

To advance on product quality it a unique validation database has been built consisting of high resolution optical satellite images collected over 200 globally distributed sites.


[T36 (T.10)]

2015 Update: VIIRS is now entering full production phase. NASA will generate a burned are product and both NASA and NOAA are implementing a consistent MODIS-like active fire algorithm (including FRP). NASA will generate the full suite (Levels 2 and 3) while NOAA will run the compatible Level 2 real- time product. For active fires only dynamic continuity is possible due to sensor differences. The community needs to ensure continuity on the mid-morning orbit with Terra MODIS from Sentinel-3 SLSTR.

[T37 (T.10)]

2015 Update: The CEOS WGCV subgroup for Land Product Validation provides updated information on intercomparison and validation of fire products, including an overview of good practice and reference data sets ( Significant process was made with respect to validation method development, burned area product intercomparison for selected years and temporal stability assessment in the framework of the ESA CCI program. Regarding reference data sets for validation, the ongoing development of higher resolution products will require a new generation (i.e., even higher resolution) of reference data. In an ongoing joint action of GCOS-TOPC experts and CEOS WGCV LPV, definitions of accuracy metrics are currently being reviewed in order to allow for an unambiguous validation of fire products.

[T39 (T.10)]

2015 Update: GOES-R is planned to be launched next year and the ABI product will be a significant improvement over the current GOES. NOAA will generate and operational product. Himawari-8 was launched recently with ABI capability. MTG FCI will also have similar capability. However, the issues of inconsistency between the various missions and data access remain for at least the next several years as the new generation sensors are phased in.

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