A world on fire

August 23, 2018

The world is on fire. Or so it appears in this image from NASA's Worldview. The red points overlaid on the image designate those areas that by using thermal bands detect actively burning fires. Africa seems to have the most concentrated fires. This could be due to the fact that these are most likely agricultural fires. The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality.

Elsewhere the fires, such as in North America are wildfires for the most part. In South America, specifically Chile has had horrendous numbers of wildfires this year. A study conducted by Montana State University found that: "Besides low humidity, high winds and extreme temperatures--some of the same factors contributing to fires raging across the United States--central Chile is experiencing a mega drought and large portions of its diverse native forests have been converted to more flammable tree plantations, the researchers said." More on this study can be found here: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-massive-south-central-chile.html#jCp

However, in Brazil the fires are both wildfires and man-made fires set to clear crop fields of detritus from the last growing season. Fires are also commonly used during Brazil's dry period to deforest land and clear it for raising cattle or other agricultural or extraction purposes. The problem with these fires is that they grow out of control quickly due to climate issues. Hot, dry conditions coupled with wind drive fires far from their original intended burn area. According to the Global Fire Watch site (between 8/15 and 8/22) shows: 30,964 fire alerts.

Australia is also where you tend to find large bushfires in its more remote areas. Hotter, drier summers in Australia will mean longer fire seasons - and urban sprawl into bushland is putting more people at risk for when those fires break out. For large areas in the north and west, bushfire season has been brought forward a whole two months to August - well into winter, which officially began 1 June. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (Bom), the January to July period 2018 was the warmest in NSW since 1910. As the climate continues to change and areas become hotter and drier, more and more extreme bushfires will break out across the entire Australian continent.
-end-
NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks "right now. This satellite image was collected on August 22, 2018. Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). Caption: Lynn Jenner with information from Global Fire Watch, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and Phys.org

To see the image on Worldview: https://go.nasa.gov/2BRck1Z

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Wildfires Articles from Brightsurf:

Wildfires can cause dangerous debris flows
Wildfires don't stop being dangerous after the flames go out.

The effects of wildfires and spruce beetle outbreaks on forest temperatures
Results from a study published in the Journal of Biogeography indicate that wildfires may play a role in accelerating climate-driven species changes in mountain forests by compounding regional warming trends.

Without the North American monsoon, reining in wildfires gets harder
New research shows that while winter rains can temper the beginning of the wildfire season, monsoon rains are what shut them down.

Wildfires cause bird songs to change
A new study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances suggests that wildfires change the types of songs sung by birds living in nearby forests.

Recent Australian wildfires made worse by logging
Logging of native forests increases the risk and severity of fire and likely had a profound effect on the recent, catastrophic Australian bushfires, according to new research.

Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires
A synthesis study looks at how climate change will affect the risk of wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.

Climate change increases the risk of wildfires confirms new review
Human-induced climate change promotes the conditions on which wildfires depend, increasing their likelihood -- according to a review of research on global climate change and wildfire risk published today.

Fire blankets can protect buildings from wildfires
Wrapping a building in a fire-protective blanket is a viable way of protecting it against wildfires, finds the first study to scientifically assess this method of defense.

Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid to prevent wildfires
Scientists and engineers worked with state and local agencies to develop and test a long-lasting, environmentally benign fire-retarding material.

UCI team uses machine learning to help tell which wildfires will burn out of control
An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of California, Irvine has developed a new technique for predicting the final size of a wildfire from the moment of ignition.

Read More: Wildfires News and Wildfires Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.