Yellowstone’s landscape was forever changed by 1988 fires Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard is a time-lapse that shows the recovery of Yellowstone National Park over the last three decades.
In the summer of 1988, fires caused by drought, lightning, and human activity spread across 793,880 acres of Yellowstone – burning more than one-third of the park.
Through these images, which were captured by USGS-NASA Landsat satellites from 1987 to 2018, the burn scars are visible from space many years after the fires. As new vegetation emerges and the forest becomes healthy again, the scars begin to fade. An extended version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Yellowstone Quarterly. The Fires of 1988 that burned 1.4 million acres in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—including 793,880 acres of the national park—were the result of a perfect storm of environmental and human factors.
Fire management policy, like the equipment, has been updated many times since that fiery year. The Yellowstone fires of 1988 have been described as being instrumental in the public’s understanding of the role of fire in ecosystems. Just a few weeks later, on September 8, 1988, fire danger caused the park to close to all non-essential staff for the very first time in history. Only the cold, wet fall weather in late September, October, and November helped finally extinguish these devastating fires for good. Yellowstone’s landscape was forever changed by 1988 fires as shown above in video.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
Video Credit: NASA Goddard