Analysis of vegetation fire news for South America and the Caribe.

Authors: Gimena Podestá, Emiliano Melchiori, Alberto Setzer, Fabiano Morelli, Debora Moraes

Vegetation fires in communication media.

The objective of this section is to carry on a study of the news that appears in communication media (Internet written media) about the occurrence of vegetation fires, accompanying this information, when possible, with hot spot detections made by satellite and provided by the BDQueimadas system of INPE.

With these data, news and hot spots, it is intended to carry on a double evaluation of the fire situation of South America and the Caribe. On one side, evaluate the interest of the medias on the subject, their origins and consequences, and on the other side, to evaluate the effectiveness of the monitoring systems to accompanying and strength the information that it is presented in the news, adding data that, at the moment, it is not usual to find in the media like satellite images of the pre and post fire conditions, hotspots maps, burned area calculations among other products that can be generated.

Information search.

News is defined as novel information about a certain situation. Situations of interest for our study are vegetation fires.

When searching for news about vegetation fires that take place in South America and the Caribe it is possible to find many sources of information on the Internet. It is possible to mention local, regional, national or international journals. These diverse sources rarely present exclusive information about any fire situation and usually it can be found redundant data about magnitude events that took place in different places around the world. Today it is common to find news in all type of journals about fires in Chile, Australia or California without even know where these sites are located. It is usual to find multiple references to the same fire event according the evolution of the facts, or as more and better information is obtained.

In this work, that redundancy has to be eliminated in order to have only one reference to any fire event. Of all available news, the one that has better information, or the one that seems more reliable is chosen.

The search process of the fire news is done periodically by analyzing news alerts incorporated in the Google Alert System. These alerts are received in an email account and verified by a consulter. From all the received news about a certain event, only one is selected and stored. The next step is to validate the information received looking for hot spot data at INPE’s system at the location described in the article.

When an article about a fire event is found, it is usual to continue receiving news until the fire has extinguish by natural cause or by fire fighters. In those cases, both ignition and extinguish data are registered, as well as the satellite detections.

Obtained data

News for the period January to December 2014.

Information obtained in massive communication media during the period January to December, 2014 are shown in the following maps and bar graphs.

Total news about fires in South America and the Caribbean (click to amplify the image)

Density maps hot spots and News (click to amplify the image)

Among the possible causes for which there are several locations mentioned in the news without satellite hot spots detection we can mention: absence of images at the location and time of the fire or cloud cover blocking the satellite vision.