Biomass Burning


Biomass burning refers to both natural and human induced vegetation fires. It is a distinct biogeochemical process and plays a major role in the global carbon cycle, impacting both regional and global climate change. Biomass burning also releases significant amounts of reactive trace gases and particulates into the atmosphere. In many developing areas fire acts as the primary agricultural tool for land management. Biomass burning is a very important factor in global climate change research, air quality assessment, and land-use/land-cover change analyses. However, the extent of burning and the impact of these activities on the global environment are not well understood. Remote sensing offers the most cost effective means for long-term monitoring of fires and associated aerosols.

The CIMSS biomass burning research project uses the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to detect and monitor fires and smoke associated with wildfires, prescribed burns, deforestation, and other agricultural applications throughout the Western Hemisphere. SSEC scientists have developed algorithms using satellite data that detect fires in near-real time and provide information regarding their spatial and time extent. The user community includes climate change scientists, the land-use and land-cover change-detection research community, aerosol and trace gas modeling community, air quality agencies, resource managers, hazards community, international policy and decision makers, and the general public.

Contact information

Chris Schmidt: email contact form

Principal Investigator

  • Chris Schmidt

Funding contributors and acknowledgements

The biomass burning products displayed on this web site were developed and produced with funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA: NAGW-3804, NAG5-4751) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA: NA67EC0100).


May 21, 2015