5 Free Data Sets for Mapping California’s Wine Country Fires

A section of a Landsat natural color image from October 11, 2017 (USGS/NASA Landsat Program; image: LC08_L1TP_045033_20171011_20171011_01_RT)

A section of a Landsat natural color image from October 11, 2017 (USGS/NASA Landsat Program; image: LC08_L1TP_045033_20171011_20171011_01_RT)

The second week of October 2017 saw the ignition of nearly two dozen fires in our state, according to CalFire. Many of the fires are burning in what we commonly think of as wine country, not only in Napa and Sonoma counties, but in Mendocino and the Sierra Foothills as well. To get a good perspective on how much area has been affected by the fires, download map and aerial imagery data from these trusted free sources:

  1. USGS Earth Explorer is one-stop shopping for publicly available satellite data sources like Landsat, Modis, and many others. The map search interface lets you preview data for easy exploration without having to download imagery to view it.  Many resources are free of charge, but those with a fee are clearly marked with a green $ icon.
  2. Digital Globe has made imagery available for the Santa Rosa Wildfires through its Open Data Program. The shortwave infrared (SWIR) dataset penetrates the smoke to produce fairly clear images even in areas with a thick smoke layer.
  3. Planet is also making their wildfire imagery available to the public. Providing both color and infrared images makes identifying burn scars easy. Compare these images with those from their free Open California Dataset from before the fires for a clear picture of how the fires have changed the landscape.
  4. CalFire reports daily on the progress of containing current fires, including maintaining an incident map online. Follow the link on the main incident map page to view the larger map for easier navigation. To download the data, click the link to view in My Maps; then in My Maps, click the menu with three horizontal dots, and pick the “download KML” option.
  5. While still in progress, the American Viticulture Areas boundary creation project led by the UC Davis Library, partnering with UC Santa Barbara Library, is keeping up with the fires’ progress, making sure AVAs in and near fire lines are added quickly to the existing dataset. Add this data to your map with the current fire boundaries to see why the media has been so focused on the topic of wineries with this set of fires: both the western and eastern fire complexes coincide with key northern California wine-growing areas.  For help accessing this dataset or questions, please contact Michele Tobias.

For questions about how to download, read, or interpret map data about the fires, please contact Michele Tobias at the UC Davis Library’s Data Management Program.