Fire is a complex biophysical process with multiple direct and indirect effects on the atmosphere, the biosphere and the hydrosphere. Moreover, it is now widely recognized that, in some fire prone environments, fire disturbance is essential to maintain the ecosystem in a state of equilibrium.

The MODIS active fire and burned area products contain information unique to understanding the timing and spatial distribution of fires and their characteristics.

The MODIS Standard Fire products provide an important contribution to the NASA Land Use and Land Cover Program and the international Global Observation of Forest Cover (GOFC) Project.

MODIS Active Fire Products

The MODIS active fire product detects fires in 1-km pixels that are burning at the time of overpass under relatively cloud-free conditions using a contextual algorithm. Learn more...

MODIS Burned Area Products

Burned areas are characterized by deposits of charcoal and ash, removal of vegetation, and alteration of the vegetation structure (Pereira et al., 1997; Roy et al., 1999). The MODIS burned area mapping algorithm takes advantage of these spectral, temporal, and structural changes. It detects the approximate date of burning at 500m by locating the occurrence of rapid changes in daily surface reflectance time series data. The algorithm maps the spatial extent of recent fires and not of fires that occurred in previous seasons or years. Learn more...


Satellites have a role to play in detecting, monitoring and characterizing fires. There are satellite systems currently in orbit that provide information on different fire characteristics: location and timing of active fires, burned area, areas that are dry and susceptible to wildfire outbreaks, and pyrogenic trace gas and aerosol emissions. These satellite systems have different capabilities in terms of spatial resolution, sensitivity, spectral bands, and times and frequencies of overpasses, but none of the sensing systems prior to NASA's MODIS included fire monitoring in their design.


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