NASA satellite sees several western US fires blazing

June 22, 2012
NASA's Aqua satellite picked up smoke (light brown) and hot spots (red) from fires in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. This image was taken from the MODIS instrument onboard Aqua on June 19, 2012, at 2025 UTC (4:25 p.m. EDT). Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team, Jeff Schmaltz

Fires are raging in the western U.S. and in one overpass from its orbit around the Earth, NASA's Aqua satellite picked up smoke and identified hot spots from fires in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

NASA's captured smoke and heat signatures from several large fires burning in the western U.S. on June 19, 2012. When Aqua passed overhead, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument captured an image at 4:25 p.m. EDT.

MODIS can detect heat. Just as the from another instrument onboard Aqua, called the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) is used to detect temperature of clouds, land and sea surface, MODIS data can detect on land. In the MODIS images, fires, or hot spots are color coded as red areas in imagery and smoke appears in light brown. Images are generated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

As of June 22, Colorado's High Park Fire has burned 68,200 acres and has destroyed 189 homes, according to the U.S. Forest Service on the Inciweb. Inciweb is the Incident Inter-agency system, that tracks U.S. fire-related incidents, specifically wildland fires. The High Park Fire is located in the Roosevelt National Forest, about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. and was started by a lightning strike.

In southern Colorado, the Little Sand Fire is generating a thick plume of smoke in the Aqua . The fire is located 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs and has so far consumed 15,987 acres, according to Inciweb. Like the High Park Fire, it started from a . It began on May 13 in the San Juan National Forest.

In Nevada, the North Schell Fire in the east central part of the state continues to burn and create a lot of smoke in the . According to the U.S. Forest Service on the Inciweb website, the North Schell Fire had consumed 11,987 acres on June 22, 2012. The fire began as a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn on June 9. The area is managed by the Ely District of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In Arizona, the Poco Fire in the Tonto National Forest appears to be creating the most smoke of the various wildfires burning in the state. The Poco Fire was human caused, and first reported on June 14, and is located northeast of Young, Ariz. By June 22, it had burned 11,950 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Smoke and the heat signatures from the Whitewater-Baldy Complex and Little Bear fires in New Mexico were also visible in the MODIS imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite.

In New Mexico, the Whitewater-Baldy complex fire has now consumed 296,980 acres, according to Inciweb. This is a fire that has generated a tremendous amount of smoke over the last several weeks.

The Little Bear fire is located in the Lincoln and had consumed 42, 980 acres as of June 22. According to the U.S. , this fire was caused by lightning on June 4. Little Bear has destroyed 254 structures, and there are a number of area and road closures in effect. For more details, visit: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2903/.

Explore further: Colorado's 'Reservoir Road Fire' can be seen from space

Related Stories

Colorado's 'Reservoir Road Fire' can be seen from space

September 14, 2010

NASA's Aqua satellite flies around the Earth twice a day and captures visible and infrared imagery. On Sept. 12 at 19:20 UTC (3:20 p.m. EDT), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on Aqua captured ...

Smoke from Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire affecting 6 states

May 28, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fires burning and rugged terrain in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico have been generating a lot of smoke. The smoke has now been swept up by a cold front pushing through ...

Image: Whitewater-Baldy complex fire

May 31, 2012

This image of the Whitewater-Baldy fire, in western New Mexico, was taken on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 2000 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies onboard NASA's ...

Double-Satellite view of Whitewater-Baldy complex fire

June 6, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites circle the globe in formation and capture images of the Earth from their orbit in space. In the “A-train of satellites,” Terra comes before Aqua, and both of them ...

Image: High Park fire, Colorado

June 12, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the High Park Fire in Colorado on June 10, 2012 at 2030 UTC (4:30 p.m. EDT) and captured this visible image of the thick pall of smoke blowing east, just north of Fort Collins.

Colorado's High Park fire: June 20, 2012

June 21, 2012

Colorado's High Park Fire continues to expand and generate a lot of smoke visible on NASA satellite imagery. NASA's Terra satellite showed winds from the west-southwest blowing the smoke to the north-northeast and into Wyoming ...

Recommended for you

Ice sheets may be more resilient than thought

September 3, 2015

Sea level rise poses one of the biggest threats to human systems in a globally warming world, potentially causing trillions of dollars' worth of damages to flooded cities around the world. As surface temperatures rise, ice ...

Climate ups odds of 'grey swan' superstorms

August 31, 2015

Climate change will boost the odds up to 14-fold for extremely rare, hard-to-predict tropical cyclones for parts of Australia, the United States and Dubai by 2100, researchers said Monday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.