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MERLIN: A new tool for MISR Plume Height Project access and analysis

June 10, 2022
MERLIN: A new tool for MISR Plume Height Project access and analysis

A snapshot of the MERLIN interface

The MISR team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA’s Atmospheric Sciences Data Center (ASDC) announce the release of a new online aerosol plume visualization and analysis tool, the MISR Enhanced Research and Lookup Interface or MERLIN.

MERLIN has been designed to provide greater ability to interactively analyze the MISR Plume Height Project dataset, a publicly available database of MISR INteractive eXplorer (MINX)-generated heights for wildfire smoke plumes that have been produced over many years thanks to the contributions of many science team members and student interns. As of this writing, the database includes all digitizable smoke plumes observed by MISR around the world for 2008 – 2011 as well as the summers (June, July, August) of 2017 and 2018. These data have been used to validate plume rise in models and other satellite-derived datasets, as well as to study the dynamics of individual fires and climatology of fire in the environment.

The MERLIN prototype was developed as part of a Caltech and ArtCenter College of Design collaboration as part of the Data to Discovery Visualization Program. Further development was funded by the MISR project. MERLIN provides the ability to visualize the Plume Height Project dataset in geographic view or with a variety of plot options, and also allows the user to apply up to four independent filters with a variety of options on the dataset simultaneously. While MERLIN is designed to facilitate analysis without the need for downloading files, a user can also obtain a download script for any filter applied to the dataset to download the individual plume files for offline analysis.

The tool is now available through the Atmospheric Sciences Data Center at A user guide for MERLIN is also available at Please update your bookmarks: MERLIN replaces the MISR Plume Height Project interface that was previously located on the MISR website at