Missouri has been experiencing smoky conditions from Canadian wildfires this summer.

Roger Michaelides is a scientist with Washington University in St. Louis, who has been studying the phenomenon. He is the co-investigator of a new NOAA-funded project that looks at how to improve radar early warning systems for wildfires.

“You use these satellites to study how these wildfire systems evolved with the time and then you potentially use these data sets to look at the longer term impacts of the wildfires, potentially years after that fire has burned,” Michaelides told Missourinet.

He wants to build a daily burn intensity estimate map for parts of the U.S. where post-fire burn scars cause flash-flooding risks.

“(Radar) can penetrate cloud cover, smoke cover, and it can operate in day or night conditions,” he said. “So that really sets it apart from most other remote sensing techniques such as optical imageries, which is basically using a really, really fancy camera on a satellite to image the earth.”

Michaelides hopes to reduce the time it takes to produce a useful map of a burned area.

“You can also use radar techniques to study things closer to home such as wildfires that could occur in the north, in Alaska and Canada, but can also occur in the Lower 48, but we’re using radar to study, not only how these wildfires evolve, but then look at what the longer term implications of wildfire are.”

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