Next Steps

Lessons 1 and 2 highlighted the importance of data and technology to support better ways to observe, analyze, and visualize a changing world. The means for these tools provide individuals, scientists, and policy makers to make informed decisions. If you enjoyed learning about geospatial tools from the geographic investigation, below is an enrichment activity to explore how geographic tools can be leveraged to observe and battle fires in the US.  

Enrichment Activity: Using Geospatial Tools to Visualize and Combat Fires in the U.S.

1. Students should become familiar with remote sensing by reading a summary on Nasa's website before moving on to the activity. Remote sensing is used to collect information about Earth from afar. This exercise examines one dataset from remotely sensed images, fires, as information about their location are collected 24 hours a day.

2. Click on the Fire data link. You will be presented with KML files to download which can then be opened in Google Earth to view where fires have occured in the last 6 days.

3. At the bottom left of the page, click on "Current" beside the option "Fire Detections option". This will allow you to download a KML file (upload to Google Earth - see step 5 below) of the most current fire data in the U.S.

4. If you do not have Google Earth on your computer, download this for free here.

Near Real Time Fires in U.S. Detected by Remote Sensing 
Source: U.S. Forest Service (March 2004)

5. With Google Earth open, click on "File" then "Open" and navigate to where you saved the KML file to open it.

6. Zoom in with the operations to the right until you see fires in the last 6, 12, 24 hours, and in the last 6 days.

7. Repeat step 3 but select "Historical" to download KMZ files collected in 2010 and earlier. The files are named by the date on which data were collected. A filename "conus_20080731.kmz" means the data were collected on July 31, 2008 across 48 contiguous states.

To learn about other location-based data used to map and visualize spatial and temporal patterns, explore these webpages:

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