Descartes Labs uses satellite imagery to track active fires and sends out timely alerts

May 12, 2020 | Case Study

A 2006 study demonstrated that the frequency of wildfires has grown by 400% since 1970 in the U.S. Today, that number might be even larger. The number and intensity of wildfires and consequent damages are increasing not just in the U.S. but throughout the world. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by WWF predicted that by 2030, wildfires will destroy 55% of the Amazon rainforests. Alongside preventive measures, detecting and monitoring wildfires is also crucial to minimize destruction. Wildfires are typically tracked using airplanes, helicopters, drones, weather balloons, and satellites. In July 2018, Descartes Labs launched a Wildfire Watch system that used images from GOES-16, Landsat 8, and Sentinel-2 satellites to detect and monitor wildfires in North America and send out periodic alerts on Twitter.

Figure: A graphic of a 2018 wildfire in Santa Fe, New Mexico, detected by Descartes Labs