U.S. Fire and Smoke (MODIS)

23 09 2012

Wildfires in Washington State. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

I think the first line of NASA’s description of this photo says it all: “The summer of 2012 will unfortunately be known as the ‘Summer of Devastating Western Wildfires’ and practically not one state out west was spared.” At present, my home state is seeing a resurgence of flames due to lightning storms sans rainwater sweeping through the area earlier in the month. I’m particularly interested in the Okanogan Complex, since it’s closest to home, but the high evacuation levels of the Wenatchee Complex have been stressing me out for two weeks now.

The above photo comes from NASA’s U.S. Fire and Smoke Gallery, an intriguing yet somewhat depressing set of images taken by various satellites. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS) on the Aqua and Terra satellites are doing what they were designed to do: provide an extensive, repetitive record of the earth’s surface. Terra flies north to south over the equator in the morning, Aqua crosses south to north in the afternoon. Between the two imaging systems, the entire surface of the earth is documented every 1-2 days. Most of the “MODIS Image of the Day” photos show us the troubled parts of the planet: typhoons, hurricanes, ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, massive phytoplankton blooms, and yes, smoke and fire from around the world.



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