Last update: November 14th, 2019 at 11:00 am
On April 10, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over eastern Europe and captured this true-color image of dozens of fires burning across the region. Red hotspots speckle the landscape, each representing an area where the thermal bands on the MODIS instrument detected high temperatures. When accompanied by smoke, as in this image, such hotspots are diagnostic for actively burning fires.
Most of the fires are found in European Russia west of the Ural Mountains, including the Volga (Privolzhsky) Federal District and the Central Federal District. Fires also speckle northeastern Ukraine and an intense cluster can be found near the Volga River Delta and the Caspian Sea, in Russia near the border of Kazakhstan. Fewer fires are found east of the Volga River.
The time of year, widespread nature and location of the hotspots suggest they are most likely agricultural in origin. Fires which are deliberately set to manage land are widely used as agricultural tools. Unfortunately, such fires can slip control and turn into wildfires – sometimes causing significant damage to land, buildings, livestock and wildlife, and can be potentially deadly to people as well.
The Russian fire season has been intense in recent years, particularly in 2010 when heat, drought and wind combined to create large and damaging wildfires.