A deep learning approach to identify smoke plumes in satellite imagery in near-real time for health risk communication

Alexandra Larsen, Ivan Hanigan, Brian J. Reich, Yi Qin, Martin Cope, Geoffrey Morgan, Ana G. Rappold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Wildland fire (wildfire; bushfire) pollution contributes to poor air quality, a risk factor for premature death. The frequency and intensity of wildfires are expected to increase; improved tools for estimating exposure to fire smoke are vital. New-generation satellite-based sensors produce high-resolution spectral images, providing real-time information of surface features during wildfire episodes. Because of the vast size of such data, new automated methods for processing information are required. Objective: We present a deep fully convolutional neural network (FCN) for predicting fire smoke in satellite imagery in near-real time (NRT). Methods: The FCN identifies fire smoke using output from operational smoke identification methods as training data, leveraging validated smoke products in a framework that can be operationalized in NRT. We demonstrate this for a fire episode in Australia; the algorithm is applicable to any geographic region. Results: The algorithm has high classification accuracy (99.5% of pixels correctly classified on average) and precision (average intersection over union = 57.6%). Significance: The FCN algorithm has high potential as an exposure-assessment tool, capable of providing critical information to fire managers, health and environmental agencies, and the general public to prevent the health risks associated with exposure to hazardous smoke from wildland fires in NRT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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