Last update: October 16th, 2019 at 10:05 am
A massive fire continued to consume large portions of boreal forest and tundra near the coast of western the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia in June 2016. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the heat signatures, burn scar, and smoke from the blaze on June 9.
The fire is burning on the northern shore of the Kharyryuzova River, just east of the tiny coastal town of Ust’-Kharyryuzovo and west of the snow-topped Sredinnyy Mountain Range. The fires first were first seen on satellite imagery on about May 25.
The blaze has created a large blackened burn scar – an area where all of the vegetation has been consumed leaving a charred appearance – as well as copious smoke. Red hotspots mark areas where the thermal sensors on the MODIS instrument detected high temperatures. When accompanied by smoke, as in this image, such hotspots are diagnostic for fire. A large bank of low cloud (fog) sits over the Sea of Okhotsk and has covered the edge of the coastline.
The Eastern Russia fire season started early in 2016, with 17 forest fires reported burning over 2,000 hectares as of April 2 – and it has only heated up since that time, with heavy fire activity continuing throughout much of Eastern Russia. Intense fires from wildfires temporarily closed an airport at Yakutsk on June 14, according to the Siberian Times. They also reported that smoke from Russian wildfire had reached the western United States and Canada, “producing exceptional sunsets”.
The early and eager fire season comes on the heels of an intensely warm and dry winter, and a faster than normal snowmelt in early spring. The Siberian Times reported that April 1 was the hottest on record for several Siberian cities, with temperatures in some areas measured at 6.2 – 16.2 ˚F (2-9˚C) higher than the record set in 1989. They also noted that the Kamchatka region as one of the regions that has warmed more intensely than the rest of the country.