Nighttime Fire Observations eXperiment (NightFOX)

NightFOX logo

Where: Western U.S.

When: 2019 wildfire season

Who: Investigators and mission support include ESRL CSD and GSD, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Aerospace Department at the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Integrated Remote and in Situ Sensing (IRISS) Program, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Utah, and the NOAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Office.

nighttime wildfire observations with UAS
Photo: D. Lack, NOAA / CIRES
A unique opportunity - nighttime wildfire observations with UAS

UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) wildfire measurements made during the 2019 wildfire season will be used to characterize nighttime combustion efficiency, smoke, fire perimeter, and fire radiative power at high spatial resolution to inform, test, and improve fire weather forecasting.

A UAS observation system is uniquely suited for nighttime measurements. Wildfires burn differently at night and there is a need for nighttime MCE (Modified Combustion Efficiency). Manned research aircraft typically do not fly at night due to perceived risks. Additionally fire extent and radiative power at night are needed for model forecasts (fire and plume).

NightFOX addresses two of the NOAA UAS Program Office's 2017 objectives: to "evaluate observing strategies using long endurance (i.e. >2 hours) fixed wing UAS" and to "evaluate, test, calibrate, and validate UAS payloads."