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Quantifying Fuel Impacts on Wildfire Behavior and Emissions by Coupling Small Unmanned Aircraft In-situ Measurements with Satellite Observations University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute/Science Mission Directorate

The major goals of this project were to use a combination of manned and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to quantify the optical properties of wildfire smoke, improve satellite retrievals of active wildfire smoke areas, and improve smoke transport and deposition modeling through the assimilation of multiscale remote sensing data. Another goal was to gather insight into fire dynamic as a function of vegetation type, and evaluate the use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) at differentiating wildfire behavior such as the differences between fires burning in the canopy and fires burning close to the ground. Such information

on burn location is expected to be of significant benefit for the quality of fire dynamic models and for correctly characterizing wildfire/weather interactions This effort allowed us to develop a new light optical atmospheric counter (LOAC) for UAF’s Alaska Center for UAS Integration (ACUASI), to be used for characterization of smoke plumes emanating from wildlands fires, as well as investigation of environmental factors (fuel, moisture, winds) on fire behavior. This asset was also used to support EPA investigation of plumes emanating from military ordnance explosions at Joint Base Elmendorf-

Richardson (JBER) in February 2015. The LOAC project was developed by ACUASI and UAF engineering students. In addition, this project allowed researchers to lease a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for use on manned aircraft and evaluate its applicability to future larger UAS planned for UAF. This capability will provide valuable insights into environmental conditions affecting fire line burn behavior. This asset will be used to measure fire line advancement during the 2015 fire season and measure burn regrowth for Alaska’s Funny River fire of 2014.

Dr. Catherine F. Cahill, Science PI, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute

ACUASI ‘Ptarmigan’ hexacopter with LOAC payload during EPA ordnance testing at JBER.

Dr. Lisa Huddleston, NASA Technical Monitor, Kennedy Space Center



NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014 -15

EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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