13 Photos Taken From Space Show Destructive Power of Wildfires
Wildfires are becoming more common, intense, and longer-lasting.
Greece’s most powerful wildfire in decades roared through Athens on July 23, killing at least 82 people.
The week prior, one of the most aggressive wildfires in Swedish history broke out near the town of Ljusdal amid a severe heatwave.
And in the US, a violent wildfire in California has forced thousands of people to flee.
These wildfires seem extraordinary in their destructive power, but they’ve become the norm as climate change both heats up and dries out countries, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Wildfires are becoming more common, intense, and longer-lasting, and have become one of the primary environmental hazards facing communities around the world.
The most immediate costs of wildfires are on human health — the people who die engulfed by flames, and those who inhale smoke. But fires also reduce agricultural output, destroy infrastructure, and contribute to climate change, according to UCS.
As fires grow in scale, their paths are becoming more visible from space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) collects aerial images of the earth’s surface and in recent years the scars of forest fires and their billowing smoke clouds have become more prominent across landscapes, showing the alarming effect of climate change.
Here are 13 photos of recent wildfires around the world.
In 2014, megafires in Canada’s Northwest Territories scorched more than 7 million acres of forest, releasing half as much carbon back into the atmosphere as all the plants and trees in Canada typically absorb in an entire year.
NOAA / NASA Goddard
A thick plume of smoke from #wildfires in Siberia has been streaming all the way into #Canada and the northern U.S. this week - seen from #GOESEast, July 9-10, 2018.
Dec. 8, 2017, International Space Station flyover of Southern California, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik photographed the plumes of smoke rising from wildfires and shared images of the region with his social media followers.
Wildfires near Darwin, Australia in 2013, seen from the International Space Station.
As viewed from the International Space Station.
A wildfire in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming in 2009, seen from the ISS.
The Bullock Fire outside Tucson, Arizona in 2002.
NASA/Donald “Stu” Broce
The 2017 Thomas Fire outside of Los Angeles, seen from the space station.
Wildfire on the southern coast of South Africa in 2017.
Smoke rises from Texas in 2011.
A satellite image from the Suomi-NPP satellite of the 2016 Fort McMurray fire in Alberta, Canada.
The West Fork Complex fire in Colorado, seen in 2013 from the ISS.
Towering smoke in Sweden, seen by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite in 2014.