2012 and the Future of Fire

The U.S. fire season in 2012 was by some measures a record-breaking season. NASA scientist Doug Morton and University of Maryland scientist Louis Giglio discuss the links between climate and wildfires and the likelihood of seeing more extreme fire events in the future. This page includes a short video discussing these topics, extended interview clips from Giglio and Morton, and visualizations of the 2012 fire season in North America.

NASA satellites constantly monitor fire activity on Earth and 2012 was a big year for fire in North America. The following visualization represents a compilation of the active fires detected by the MODIS instrument on board the Terra and Aqua satellites from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31, 2012.

Smaller agricultural fires in the southeast United States and Mexico appear to dominate the scene, but the big story of the year was large wildfires. Bright yellow on the map shows areas that are more intense and have a larger area that is actively burning, flaming and/or smoldering, including some of the major wildfires of the year. For more on this video, visit

For more information on fires and climate, visit:

And to see a short video exploring the 2012 fire season and fire projections for the future, visit:


Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Lead Animator
Jesse Allen (Sigma Space Corporation): Animator
Jefferson Beck (USRA): Producer
Doug C. Morton (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Louis Giglio (SSAI): Scientist
Inbal Becker Reshef (University of Maryland): Scientist
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Videographer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This item is part of this series:
Narrated Movies

SVS >> Climate
SVS >> Drought
SVS >> Earth
SVS >> Fire Management
SVS >> Natural Disasters >> Fires
NASA Science >> Earth
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