Ireland's Recent Gorse Fires as Seen from Space

Thu 11th May 2017

Ireland's Gorse Fires Captured by Sentinel-2

The last few weeks has seen a large increase in the number of gorse fires incidents across the Island of Ireland, putting thousands of acres of forest at risk of destruction.

The fires continue to rage in many areas across the country with counties Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Cork, Donegal, Wicklow and Tyrone particularly badly affected. The fires have so far affected a wide range of countryside, wildlife habitats and peoples properties.

The gorse fires are being monitored using satellite data and imagery, with more than 50 fire locations detected via satellite since April 21st. The Sentinel satellites as part of the European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation programme have proved particularly valuable to the authorities monitoring the fires. With frequent revisit times, the Sentinel satellites have been able to not only detect the evidence of gorse fire events but capture images of the fires as they rage across the country.

With our expertise in GIS and Remote Sensing techniques, we have been able to obtain images from the Sentinel satellites to highlight the extent to which some of the gorse fires have been burning. The gallery below contains images from two separate incidents in County Donegal and on the County Dublin/Wicklow border.

Donegal Images

The images for Donegal were captured by Sentinel-2 on Thursday 04th May. Images of the Donegal gorse fire were captured in True Colour (composed of Sentinel-2 bands 2, 3 and 4) and in Short Wave Infrared (composed of Sentinel-2 bands 4, 8A and 12). From the true colour image, a vast smoke plume is clearly visible, indicating the large extent of the fire and that the fire was active at the time of capture. The SWIR image on the other hand shows clearly just how strong the on-going burning was and the total area affected.

Wicklow Images

The images for Wicklow were captured by Sentinel-2 on Monday 08th May. The true colour images clearly show smoke rising from the area of the fire with the SWIR image showing just how fierce the fire was when it was captured.

Cork Images

The images for Cork were captured by Sentinel-1 at the end of April. The Sentinel-1 satellite is particularly effective when studying areas of land which is affected by a large amount of cloud cover. The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) composite images, captured by Sentinel-1 reveal the extent of scarring following a gorse fire, this is show in areas which are coloured in dark blue.

Our expertise in Remote Sensing has seen us use data from the Copernicus programme to help clients in a range of different industry sectors. This has included the Use of Satellite Remote Sensing Data in Flood Analysis as well as determining how to identify, detect & map wildfire events using Sentinel imagery. To learn more about our use of Sentinel data and how it could benefit your organisation, please Get in Touch.