Smoke and fires in eastern Russia •

Last update: September 18th, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Eastern Russia’s spring wildfire season continued to heat up in late May 2016, with intense wildfires consuming considerable acreage and leaving large burn scars which are easily visible from space. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image on May 23.

Red hotspots mark areas in eastern Russia where the thermal bands on the MODIS instrument detected high temperatures. When accompanied by smoke, as is this image, such hotspots are diagnostic for actively burning fires. Most of the landscape appears green, the color of vegetation, or tan mottled with green, both of which are normal colorations in springtime. Many of the fires burn at the edge of the greening land and large blotches that appear black. The blackened areas are burn scars – areas where vegetation has been burned by fire.

In the north of the image, ice still covers the Zeya Reservoir and it appears white. The Zeya Reservoir covers about 2,420 sq km (934 sq mi). It appears that several of the fire scars are as large as – or larger than – the surface area of that reservoir.


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