Yellowstone Burn Recovery

  • Released Monday, July 23rd, 2012
  • Updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 at 12:18AM

A combination of lightning, drought and human activity caused fires to scorch more than one-third of Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988. Within a year, burn scars cast a sharp outline on the 793,880 acres affected by fire, distinguishing wide sections of recovering forest, meadows, grasslands and wetlands from unburned areas of the park. After more than two decades, satellite instruments can still detect these scars from space.

In the time-lapse video below, a series of false-color images collected by USGS-NASA Landsat satellites from 1987 to 2018 show the burning and gradual regeneration of Yellowstone's forests following the 1988 fire season. Watch as burn scars (dark red) quickly replace large expanses of healthy green vegetation (dark green) by 1989. Notice how the scars slowly fade over time as new vegetation begins to grow and heal the landscape.

Landsat Project Scientist Jeff Masek has been studying the recovery of the forest after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. In the video below, he talks about how Landsat satellites detect the burn scars from space and distinguish them from healthy, un-burned forest and from new growth.

Landsat Project Scientist Jeff Masek has been studying the recovery of the forest after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. In this video, he talks about how Landsat satellites detect the burn scars from space and distinguish them from healthy, un-burned forest and from new growth.

For complete transcript, click here.

Complete transcript available.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterImages used from NASA's Earth Observatory:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/yellowstone.phpLandsat is a joint program of NASA and USGS:
http://landsat.usgs.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/landsat


Missions

This visualization is related to the following missions:

Series

This visualization can be found in the following series:

Tapes

This visualization originally appeared on the following tapes:
  • Yellowstone Burn Recovery (ID: 2011117)
    Monday, July 23, 2012 at 4:00AM
    Produced by - Walt Feimer