U.S: Firefighters in New Mexico are using Landsat satellite imagery to gauge the severity of wildfires. They are also using remote sensing techniques to determine the loss of vegetation.
As soon as the wildfire dies down, the Forest Service’s Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City provides maps to identify the high, moderate and low severity burns. The remote sensing specialists study the satellite imagery of the burned forest both pre- and post-fire. They then use two of the 11 spectral bands. The near-infrared band wavelength bounces off of healthy plant cells and sends back a strong signal. This means that the vegetation in that particular area is safe. The short-wave infrared bands reflect well from exposed ground which confirms loss of vegetation.