Are wildfires getting worse?

Press/Media: Expert comment


Image used in the article which was orginally produced by EnviroSAR Ltd. and a quotation provided:

California’s clear skies mean optical satellites more easily capture images of burned areas after wildfires than they do in the UK, where cloud cover often obscures land, says Dr Gail Millin-Chalabi, founder of the University of Manchester start-up EnviroSAR. But radar data could be used alongside optical images – when available – to map the impact of wildfires on UK heathland and moorland.

Using satellite SAR (synthetic aperture radar) data, scientists can monitor the Earth’s surface, day or night, regardless of cloud coverage. This is important, says Millin-Chalabi. Moorland wildfires east of Manchester in 2018 left peat open to the elements and prone to erosion. Organic carbon from peat dissolves into the runoff during downpours of rain and discolours drinking water. If moorlands aren’t restored – protected in heavy rainfall and reseeded to prevent erosion – then sediment and heavy metals in north-west England’s peaty soils could enter into the water course.

“We’re keen to work with authorities and utility companies and identify where it’s best to target restoration efforts,” she says. “Our vision is to do this nationwide and develop a platform to provide this information for any wildfires in the UK. Nationally things need to be more integrated when it comes to what is collected on the ground and the information we can extract from satellite data.”

Period19 Jan 2019

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleAre wildfires getting worse?
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletEngineering and Technology Magazine
    Media typeWeb
    Duration/Length/Size2 pages
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionQuotation included in E&T Magazine which is an award-winning magazine and website for engineers, covering built environment, design and production, energy, IT and communications, and transport.
    Producer/AuthorHelena Pozniak
    PersonsGail Millin-Chalabi


  • Wildfires
  • SAR
  • Radar
  • EnviroSAR
  • environment