Status Report

NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 26, 2012 – Fires in central Russia

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2012
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Widespread fires burned across central and eastern Russia in late April 2012, engulfing thousands of hectares of field and forest. Meanwhile, spring floods inundated residences lying near snow-melt laden rivers, primarily in the western central region of Russia. While flooding and fire are common events across Russia in the springtime, the extent of the fires this spring is striking when viewed from space. On April 24, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over south central Russia and captured this true-color image of fires blazing in the Oblasts (provinces) of Tyumen and Omsk. Omsk Oblast lies east of Tyumen Oblast, and fills roughly two-thirds of the image. Fields and dry grasslands appear as various shades of tan and brown, while forest, vegetated wetland and growing vegetation appear green. Actively burning fires are marked in red and most are accompanied by plumes of gray smoke which are being blown eastward by strong winds. In some areas the smoke is so thick that it obscures the land beneath. Several burn scars – charred circular areas with fires burning at the edges – can also be visualized. When viewed at high resolution, the southern landscape is covered by a patchwork pattern typical of agricultural fields. In the northwest, water-filled rivers and wetlands with circular pools of water can be seen. Some of the larger lakes appear to have a covering of ice, but the landscape is entirely snow-free. A warm spring can cause both fires and floods. Rising temperatures melt the winter’s snow and ice, filling the rivers to overflowing. Warm weather also turns dried grasses into tinder, ripe for ignition by any spark. Most fires are caused by human activity, including agricultural management. When winds are high and conditions dry, such controlled fires can escape and turn into infernos. Unusual weather has also caused concern for the wildlife in the region. On April 19, reported that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had imposed a ban on hunting in Omsk Oblast for the protection of bird species, citing adverse natural and hydrometeorological conditions this spring. These included a high fire risk, abnormal weather conditions and a reduction in the number of wintering waterfowl this year. A similar ban has been imposed in the Altai Krai, the Republic of Kalmykia, and Astrakhan and Rostov Oblasts.

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SpaceRef staff editor.