Satellite Imagery of Watertown Tire Fire

July 22, 2005
Watertown Tire Fire

UW-Madison researchers are using satellite imagery to measure the extent of a massive smoke plume rising from a fire at a tire recycling facility in Watertown, Wis.

A few hours after the fire began at around 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the region and captured an image of the smoke plume. By that time, the plume of smoke extended 93 miles to the southeast, stretching across Milwaukee and over central Lake Michigan.

More than 637 square miles were covered by the plume, including 290 square miles of Lake Michigan.

The image was collected by an instrument called MODIS, one of several sensors on the Aqua satellite. While the resolution, or level of detail, in MODIS imagery is coarse, the sensor provides daily coverage of very large areas. This allows scientists to use MODIS to monitor atmospheric and lake-surface conditions across the entire Great Lakes region on a daily basis.

Researchers at the UW-Madison Environmental Remote Sensing Center processed the raw image data to enhance the visibility of the smoke plume. While the plume can easily be seen over land, it is more difficult to detect over the dark background of Lake Michigan's water.

Source: The University of Wisconsin System

Explore further: Fires and snow in Central Europe

Related Stories

Fires and snow in Central Europe

February 18, 2015

The Aqua satellite captured this image on February 17, 2015 of multiple hot spots scattered throughout the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia landscape.

Fires and Smoke in Russia

August 5, 2010

Intense fires continued to rage in western Russia on August 4, 2010. Burning in dry peat bogs and forests, the fires produced a dense plume of smoke that reached across hundreds of kilometers. The Moderate Resolution Imaging ...

Fires around Moscow: A satellite perspective

August 13, 2010

Space scientists at the University of Leicester have released satellite images of vast plumes of smoke emanating from the peat bog fires which are currently sweeping across central and western Russia.

NASA satellite sees several western US fires blazing

June 22, 2012

Fires are raging in the western U.S. and in one overpass from its orbit around the Earth, NASA's Aqua satellite picked up smoke and identified hot spots from fires in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Recommended for you

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.