Last update: December 6th, 2019 at 8:00 am
Late Summer Fires in Siberia. Several large fires in northeastern Russia are billowing massive smoke clouds over the East Siberia Sea. This Aqua MODIS image shows the region on September 16, 2003. Active fire detections made by the sensor are highlighted in yellow in the bottom center of the image. In Siberia, the soil is made of thick layers of peat—dead organic material that is slow to decay in the frigid temperatures. When this material catches fire, it produces huge amounts of smoke.
Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.
The territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins. The Yenisei River conditionally divides Siberia into two parts, Western and Eastern. Siberia stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the national borders of Mongolia and China.
With an area of 13.1 million square kilometres (5,100,000 sq mi), Siberia accounts for 77% of Russia’s land area, but it is home to approximately 36 million people—27% of the country’s population. This is equivalent to an average population density of about 3 inhabitants per square kilometre (7.8/sq mi) (approximately equal to that of Australia), making Siberia one of the most sparsely populated regions on Earth. If it were a country by itself, it would still be the largest country in area, but in population it would be the world’s 35th-largest and Asia’s 14th-largest.
Credit: Image courtesy Jesse Allen, based on data from the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC