Biomass Burning Fact Sheet

Future Research
The year 2000 was one of the worst fire years ever recorded in the United States. As of November 14, 2000, a total of 90,674 wildfires burned 7.26 million acres across the United States as compared to the previous ten-year average (1990-1999) of 3.79 million acres burned. On one day, August 29, 2000, 84 large fires (100 acres or more) were burning simultaneously. Total fire suppression cost in 2000 was about $1.6 billion, making fire monitoring an important social, health, economic, and national security concern.

igniting a controlled fire
Igniting the controlled fire at the base of the Impact Dynamics Research Facility at LaRC on January 31, 2001. This facility, previously named the Lunar Landing Research Facility, was originally used by the Apollo astronauts to practice lunar landings.

Scientists are continuing to develop new instruments for measuring and monitoring fire from aircraft and spacecraft. This research will help assess the impact of fire-produced gases and particulates on atmospheric composition and chemistry and on climate. In August 2000 and January 2001, researchers set controlled fires at the Impact Dynamics Research Facility at LaRC to test new fire monitoring and measurement instrumentation that will eventually help researchers study global fires (Fig. 4 and Fig. 5). Tests like these will support the Interagency Agreement signed in November 2000 between LaRC and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

instruments record data on the fire
About 165 feet above the controlled fire in the gantry of the Impact Dynamics Research Facility, visible and infrared fire monitoring instruments, at bottom right, record the fire temperature, the rate of fire spread, and the area burned. These instruments are being readied for flights over wildfires on United States Forest Service airplanes.

In this partnership, LaRC will develop instruments for the remote sensing of fires to be flown on aircraft by the Forest Service. Instruments will monitor active fires, measure fire temperature and the area burned, and provide an exact geographical location of a fire. Information from these instruments will also help fire fighters more efficiently and economically plan how to control and fight fires. The fire monitoring instrumentation will provide information about the fire to the ground in real time, giving fire fighters an unique and comprehensive perspective to help meet the growing demands of fire control in the United States.

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