Monthly Archives: May 2016

Map of burned areas of Fort McMurray update

The map

Below is the map made with images from May 5 at 11:58am. This is an high resolution update of the previous map.  Click on the picture to open a larger image. The second map shows where there is dense smoke on satellite images: the burned areas underneath are estimated only and are more prone to inaccuracies.

What I have done

I have used satellite images from Google / TerraBella in Near-InfraRed (NIR, usually used to monitor vegetation) and visible light (RGB) to map the extent of the burned areas.

The Google / TerraBella images have a resolution of 1m for the RGB and 2m for RGB. So the accuracy is quite good and the burned areas have been assessed almost house by house. At this resolution, mapping is a massive undertaking, so to keep it manageable, the accuracy of the mapping of the forest areas is much coarser than in inhabited areas.

Important

Again, these maps are unofficial and they should be considered indicative only. For satellite images, please see the Alberta Government website and for support and resources for evacuees, please see the City of Edmonton.

Map of burned of Fort McMurray Hi-res update

Map of burned areas of Fort McMurray with smoke and clouds Hi-res update

Map of burned areas of Fort McMurray

The map

Below is the map made with images from May 5 at 11am-12pm. Click on the picture to open a larger image. The second map shows where there is dense smoke on satellite images: the burned areas underneath are estimated only and are more prone to inaccuracies.

What I have done

I have used satellite images (Sentinel 2 and Landsat 8) in Near-InfraRed (usually used to monitor vegetation) and visible light to map the extent of the burned areas.

It is difficult to assess the accuracy of the map. There is a lot of smoke, so it’s difficult to be sure whether the land underneath is burned. The images I’m using have a resolution of 10-30 m depending on the satellite.

Important

These maps are unofficial and accuracy is not guaranteed. Burned areas are estimated based on the state of vegetation, and they should be considered indicative only. For support and resources for evacuees, please see the City of Edmonton.

Map of burned areas of Fort McMurray

Map of burned areas of Fort McMurray with smoke and clouds

Who I am

I’m a PhD student working on glaciers. I have worked with a lot of aerial and satellite images, and know how to read and interpret them. I worked as a land surveyor for 4 years at the French National Mapping Agency (IGN).

I’m French, and just moved 2 weeks ago to Edmonton with my Canadian partner. When we saw the catastrophe in Fort McMurray, we decided to volunteer to help sort donations, but they already had too many pairs of hands. I decided to use my skills to make a map showing the extent of the fire relative to Fort McMurray neighborhoods. I hope this will be useful to complement official reports of damage, so people can see how their part of a neighborhood is affected.

Need for updated images

I have used images freely available to researchers for these maps, however, more recent and higher resolution images are commercially available. I requested the donation of better images from the USGS Hazard Data Distribution System, who declined. If you can help, please contact me.

With any questions or comments, or requests for more information, please use the contact form below.