Science and Exploration

Fires In Nepal As Seen From Orbit

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 7, 2021
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Fires In Nepal As Seen From Orbit
Fires in Nepal
Joint Polar Satellite System - JPSS

Smoke from hundreds of fires in Nepal has drastically reduced air quality in recent weeks, causing the country to cancel school until Friday so students can avoid the pollution and potential health risks.
Yesterday and so far today, monitoring site IQAir has ranked the air quality in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, as the worst in the world.

NOAA-20 viewed the fires and heavy smoke over the country yesterday, seen in the image below. The fires are indicated in shades of yellow, orange and red, depending on observed intensity. NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP measure aerosols in the atmosphere, which can help forecast and monitor air quality worldwide, including tracking the movement of aerosols like wildfire smoke. Additionally, their measurements of fire intensity can help to predict the amount of air pollution emitted from burning vegetation.

Nepal’s 2020-2021 fire sea son is reportedly the worst in almost a decade, with more than 2,000 fires reported since November. According to Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, rain is in the forecast today and tomorrow for parts of the country, which may help wash away some air pollutants.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.