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.
Researcher Doug Morton of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center discusses satellite observations of fires, the 2012 fire season, and climate projections for the future.
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 SVS entry #4011
Cumulative Daily MODIS Active Fires in the United States during 2012 over 16 day composite MODIS NDVI and 16 day composite MODIS snow and ice. In this animation active fires persist for 30 days with newer fires being overlaid on top of older fires.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 184.108.40.206.0