Status Report

NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 29, 2011 – Fires near Lake Baikal, Russia

By SpaceRef Editor
April 29, 2011
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NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 29, 2011 – Fires near Lake Baikal, Russia
NASA MODIS Image of the Day: April 29, 2011 - Fires near Lake Baikal, Russia


The waters of Lake Baikal, in southern Siberia, remained ice-covered on April 12, 2011 despite unseasonably warm spring temperatures which helped fuel a vigorous start to the annual Russian fire season.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on the same day.

In April, temperatures in Siberia, have reached 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) in some areas – a record for this time of year – according to RT, a news agency reporting in Russia. In Ulan-Ude, a town which is located on the southeastern side of Lake Baikal near a cluster of fires, the high temperature on April 12 was 18 deg C (64.4 deg F), well over the average high temperature for this city in April, which is 9.4 deg C (48.9 deg F). Although snow still blankets most of the region, especially the higher elevations, the warm spring temperatures have melted snow covering the taiga (forest) and steppes (grassland), leaving the vegetation, which becomes as dry as tinder through the long, dry, frigid winter, exposed. It is in these areas where the fires can be seen. According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, most of the fires are due to human activity. This activity can include campfires, accidental ignition by cigarettes or matches, and deliberately setting fires for a number of reasons, most often for agricultural purposes. Following the devastating fire season in 2010, the Russian government has been preparing for the upcoming fire season in many ways, including allocating money to fire programs, sending manpower quickly into blazes, and informing the public of fire danger. Local governments have taken additional measures as necessary to limit the risk of fire. For example, on April 5, the Region of Primorsky, in Russia’s Far East, is reported to have banned local residents from entering the forests due to the increased danger of wildfires as a result of the warm, dry weather.

SpaceRef staff editor.