Heat and drought fuel fires in south-central Chile • Earth.com

Heat and drought fuel fires in south-central Chile

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features widespread fires across south-central Chile, which have been burning since February 2, 2023. According to NASA, the fires were stoked by a summer heat wave and strong winds.

“Over the course of several days, the deadly fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and have spread across more than 294,000 hectares (1,100 square miles),” says NASA.

“The Biobío and Araucanía regions have been the hardest hit by fires in terms of affected area, where collectively more than 200,000 hectares have burned.”

“According to Chile’s National Forestry Corporation, the country’s total burned area so far this summer – 294,000 hectares as of February 7 – is seven times more than the five-year average. The worst fire on record (which goes back to 1985) was in 2017, when 570,000 hectares burned.”

The World Meteorological Organization reports that the ongoing megadrought in central Chile is the most persistent drought in at least 1,000 years.

The false-color image was acquired on February 3, 2023 by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Editor

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