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Posted: General

If you are planning to burn units at least 20 acres in size during the late growing season, your smoke could help contribute to science.

Currently, a NASA DC-8 is stationed in Salina, Kansas, for the FIREX-AQ project. "Our science goals are to understand the large diversity of fires, including those that are often underrepresented -- prescribed and cropland fires (rangelands, grasslands, etc.). We want to understand and characterize the differences in emissions between large wildland and smaller fires," explained Dr. Amber J. Soja in a recent email update about the project. Soja is an Associate Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace. "FIREX-AQ goals require sampling a diverse array of fires in order to best inform the science," she said.
 
That may still beg the question - won't a grassland growing season burn in the Midwest be too small? Dr. Jessica McCarty, a co-investigator at Miami University, clarified the scale of interest. "We want to fly small fires (several 20-80 acre fires) to as large as 8,000 acres (lit as 500-600 blocks)." A flight on August 21 sampled eight 40 acre cropped fields in Louisiana and Arkansas, she said. If weather conditions lead to several burns occurring nearby on the same day, the mission may may be able to pick up burns in the Corn Belt region.

NASA's Joe Atkinson posted a story about that flight on the NASA Earth Expeditions blog. Atkinson's story noted that researchers on that flight spotted and sampled a fire in northern Texas that hadn't been picked up by satellites. “This goes back to the question of, are we seeing these small fires?” asked Jim Crawford, FIREX-AQ mission scientist from NASA’s Langley Research Center.

If you are planning a burn and would like to get involved, please contact one of the regional team members:

croplands, ag lands
Jessica McCarty, Miami University - mccartjl@miamioh.edu (502) 415-1628
prescribed wildland burns:
Carol Baldwin, Kansas State University - carolbaldwin@ksu.edu (785) 532 - 0416