Fires and Smoke Across Alaska. Smoke from scores of fires flows like a river through the skies over eastern Alaska (roughly the western two-thirds of this image) and western Canada (eastern third) on June 27, 2004. The region has been experiencing extreme fire activity since mid-June, as a result of record-breaking lightning activity and unforgiving weather. The fires are so smoky it is difficult to gain perspective in the image, which was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite. At top, to the right of center, ice is visible in the Beauford Sea, while at bottom center, the Gulf of Alaska peeks through clouds. The Yukon River flows westward out of the image at left. Areas where MODIS detected active fires are marked in red.
Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, comprising more total area than the next three largest states Texas, California, and Montana combined, and the seventh-largest subnational division in the world. It is the third-least populous and the most sparsely populated state, but by far the continent’s most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel, with an estimated population of 738,432 as of 2015—more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska’s residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. The state capital of Juneau is the second-largest city in the United States by area, comprising more territory than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.
Alaska was occupied by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years b
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC