Thick smoke rises over the Greek island of Rhodes • Earth.com

Thick smoke rises over the Greek island of Rhodes

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features thick smoke from fire on the Greek island of Rhodes drifting toward the Aegean Sea. 

The image, which is natural color with infrared signature from actively burning fires, was captured on July 19 by Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. 

“Wildfires raging across the Greek island of Rhodes sent tens of thousands of locals and tourists scrambling for safety in late July 2023,” said NASA.

“A prolonged stretch of extreme heat contributed to high fire risk across much of the country. Blazes also ignited on the mainland and the islands of Corfu and Evia.”

According to NASA, the image captures the start of what turned into an intense period of wildfire. Scientists tracked the spread of the fire with the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor on the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. 

Eli Orland is a research associate at Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Tess McCabe is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Maryland, College Park. The researchers noted that the Rhodes fire spread relatively slowly at first, then picked up rapidly. 

“Between July 21 and July 23, it underwent a six-fold increase in size, from approximately 25 to 150 square kilometers (10 to 60 square miles), according to their analysis,” said NASA.

“An estimated 19,000 people evacuated from areas threatened by the blazes, according to news reports. Many sought refuge in makeshift shelters such as schools, gymnasiums, and docked ships, while some in seaside villages boarded coast guard vessels to move to safety.”

“As of July 24, there were 82 fires burning across Greece, with 64 of those starting on July 23. In addition to the many people impacted on Rhodes, upwards of 2,500 people on Corfu were evacuated, and residents of villages in southern Evia found themselves in harm’s way as high winds fanned the flames.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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