BIROS (Berlin InfraRed Optical System Satellit - Mission Firebird)

Since June 22nd 2016 the satellite BIROS as part of the Mission FireBIRD is observing savanna and forest fires worldwide. Therewith it helps to facilitate the assessment of the increase in major fires as a result of climate change and how much additional input of climate gases into the atmosphere it produce.
High temperature events on earth such as savanna and forest fires are increasing in frequency and intensity on a global scale. Regions in subtropical and tropical as well as boreal climates are most heavily affected. They contribute to a change in dynamics on local, regional and partially even continental scale. They also cause an enormous input of ash and grime into the troposphere, which can drift across whole continents. Furthermore, large fires increase the level of gases in the atmosphere, which in turn have a considerable influence on the absorption and reflection of solar radiation.  Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide, tropospheric ozone or methyl chloride influence the formation of clouds and precipitation regionally. Large forest fires are also a major contributor to the emission of CO2. First estimates on CO2 emissions assume that forest and savanna fires are responsible for 28 % of the global emission of carbon dioxide.

The FireBIRD mission will monitor selected major fires in a detailed observation. The collected data will allow important insight into the amount of burnt biomass and released climate gases. The mission will facilitate the quantitative and qualitative assessment of the increase in major fires as a result of climate change. It will also observe the additional input of climate gases into the atmosphere (positive feedback), that is being caused by forest fires. BIROS’s goal was the development and establishment of a satellite framework (BUS) to support the Firebird satellite mission. As one of the micro satellites of the FireBIRD mission, BIROS was successfully launched into space on 22 June 2016.

BIROS was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) until May 2016 with € 5 million.