Fires And Smoke Across Alaska. Large fires burning in Alaska and the Yukon Territory continue to grow, spreading thick smoke over much of Alaska. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this smoky scene on June 30, 2004. Active fire detections are marked in red. Over 930,000 acres have burned in Alaska since the fires started in mid-June.
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 before the arrival of Europeans. The state is considered the entry point for the settlement of North America by way of the Bering land bridge. The Russians were the first Europeans to settle the area beginning in the 18th century, eventually establishing Russian America, which spanned most of the current state. The expense and difficulty of maintaining this distant
Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC