Detecting coalfires with remote sensing: a comparative study of selected countries

Coalfires, both underground and on the surface, are a serious problem in most major coal-producing countries of the Asia-Pacific region including China, India and Indonesia. Australia also experiences similar problems but on a somewhat smaller scale. Coal fires produce large quantities of CO2 along with several other noxious gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of sulphur and methane. It has been noted that greenhouse gas emissions from coalfires are significant enough to create a global impact. Apart from these large-scale environmental problems coalfires cause many local problems, operational difficulties, lead to consumption of a precious non-renewable energy source, and endanger human security. This paper discusses the significance of satellite remote sensing as a reliable tool to detect and monitor coalfires. In recent years multi-spectral spaceborne thermal remote sensing data have returned very reliable results in identifying coalfires with inputs from local geological maps. This paper elaborates upon examples from selected countries.