A new joint study between the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Interim Reanalysis (ERA-Interim) reveals that fire seasons have lengthened between 1979 and 2013. Moreover, the researchers also discovered that tough fire seasons have become more frequent during this period.
Sweden is not a country typically known for its summer wildfires. Fires occur regularly, but not in the intesity of this year's blaze that has been affecting the region of Västmanland since 31 July 2014.
The fire grew to the largest one in 40 years. It has affected more than 150 square kilometers, killed one person and forced thousands to evacuate.
The summer heat in Australia brought high temperatures as well as strong winds to an already dry environment and created conditions for big fires. By yesterday almost 200,000 hectares had burned. The massive Snowy River Complex fire alone lights up an area of the size of Melbourne.
Agricultural burning is widespread in Africa and fires keep on breaking out in different regions.
This image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Sprectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on January 28, 2014 and shows the Sahel region in West Africa in the middle of its burning season. Fires are marked with red points, smoke is easily recognizable.
Smoke plumes from fires, volcanoes, and pollution are all reaching high into the atmosphere and can therefore very easily be detected from space. Most recently, Astronaut Karen Nyberg shot a photograph of fires around Darwin and Melville Island, Australia, on August 5, 2013, while looking west across the Timor Sea from the International Space Station (ISS). She also took a photo looking straight down on the fires.
For more than a decade Earth-observing satellites have been scanning the surface of our planet searching for fires while scientists combine their space-based data to predict crucial fire behavior and therefore try to mitigate potential damages. In the western United States, California and Colorado, the 2013 wildfire season has started earlier than normal due to the favorable conditions for fire present in this area.