ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – NASA scientists are using satellite technology to monitor one of New Mexico’s worst natural disasters: wildfires. Their research could mean big changes in how we deal with them.
The new campaign from NASA allows the agency to see the fires before anyone else with the help of satellites. That means firefighters may get to them sooner and put them out. They say these intense fires put out a lot of smoke that can quickly eject into the atmosphere and move across the globe.
“Not only do you have the usual air quality problems that may be impacting your local community nearby the fires,” said Santiago Gassó, a scientist at NASA. “But particularly those wildfires that are really intense, that are really vigorous that eject smoke high into the atmosphere, that has a chance to travel very far.”
Scientists are helping firefighters combat these fires and track movement in real-time, which can save your lives, homes, and favorite outdoor spots. As for what’s causing these intense fires, NASA says recent record-breaking temperatures may be to blame.
“What we have right now is an extension of the hot season,” said Gassó. “Now, what we are witnessing is starting the summer season much earlier which means you start to dry things really early. When you dry them up, you make more fuel available for fires.”
Chances are, you’ve seen smoke in New Mexico skies from wildfires along the West Coast and throughout the southwest and state. It’s impacting the air you breathe. NASA scientists are using the latest satellite technology from space and taking samples to see how fast the smoke travels.
“Right now we are seeing fires in Siberia that are reaching the west coast of the United States,” said Gassó. “We have the fires from Alaska going all the way to Greenland.”
This kind of smoke tracking will help state officials know how it’s affecting people and issue health alerts a lot quicker when they need to. The samples they take from the ground and air will also help them determine what chemicals are going into the smoke and, thus, into our air.
NASA has these satellite images and videos available on their website. Much of these findings are available to the public.