An intense fire season, which started in April this year, is heating up in central Russia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of fires and smoke over the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic on July 10, 2014.
Red hot spots are scattered over the entire landscape, and intense gray smoke rises from the hotspots, joining a river of thick smoky river that shrouds the ground from view and appears to mingle with clouds. Each hot spot is an area where the thermal sensors on the MODIS instrument detected temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by smoke, such hot spots are diagnostic for actively burning fires.
The northern regions of Siberia have experienced an extremely warm and dry spring. Multiple fires began springing up in the far northern regions in April, a time when snow typically blankets the taiga. On July 10, ITAR-TASS reported that 79 active forest fires were raging on more than 13,500 hectares in five Siberian regions, with the Irkutsk region and Krasnoyarsk territory the hardest hits. 56 new fires were reported as igniting in Krasnoyarsk Krai on July 9 – 10 alone. This year, 1,312 fires burned more than 82,000 hectares in Krasnoyarsk. Last year at this time, only 548 wildfires had burned 22,500 hectares in the same region during the same period.
This image is centered over the Sakha (Yakutia) republic. Irkutsk sits in the southwest section of the image, and Krasnoyarsk Krai begins near the western edge. Mottled cloud cover appears bright white over the region, with heavier clouds in the west. Smoke is gray or dull white, and is widespread and thick, often obscuring the view of the land.