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Wildfires come here after a record-breaking heat wave in British Columbia

Every day, there are more signs that anthropogenic factors are causing unpleasant changes in our climate. Here in beautiful British Columbia, this means wildfires are once again threatening countless forests, communities and wildlife. By the end of June 2021, more than 40 wildfires were rampant throughout the state, including a fairly large cluster around the town of Lytton.

Located just 150 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, Lytton, Lytton had to evacuate on June 30 after an extreme heat wave led to a wildfire that struck the area. These wildfires and their impact at the time were being monitored by parts of NASA. Earth Observatory satellite.A series of recently shared images Their website, They show a fire that was rampant near Lytton just hours before the evacuation.

On the satellite NOAA-20 satelliteWas released as part of Joint polar satellite system (JPSS) With NASA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).Its use Visible infrared imaging radiometer suite (VIIRS), NOAA-20 acquired images of three fires burning around Litoon on June 30 at 2:00 pm PST (5 pm EST) (shown below).th..

NOAA-20VIIRS image of a fire in British Columbia Interior on June 30. Credit: NASA EO

These include the McKay Creek fire (left) and the Sparkslake fire (right), estimated at 150-200 km (60-75 miles) approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) north and 45 km (28 miles) northeast of Liloet. Burned. Kamloops. This image also shows a small fire burning just 5 km (3 miles) south of Lytton near George Road. The image also shows different types of clouds associated with this type of wildfire in the woodlands.

The second image (shown below) is Operational Land Imager (OLI) Landsat 8 A satellite jointly developed by NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This image was taken at 12:00 PM PDT (03: 00 PM EDT) and shows the contrast between the McKay Creek fire and the pyroCbs clouds and dry smoke, as well as the details of the fire that drives them.

The clouds were imaged in natural colors by OLI, while the flames were overlaid using shortwave infrared light data provided by the satellite. Thermal infrared sensor (TIRS). The fire south of Lytton eventually moved north, prompting Mayor Jan Polderman to sign a formal evacuation order at 6 pm Pacific Daylight Time (9 pm Eastern Standard Time). The flames were driven by winds up to 71 km / h (44 mph), so residents received only 15 minutes of advance warning.

About an hour later, the fire reached the town, causing serious property damage and several injuries to the displaced residents. Images captured by the NOAA-20 satellite also show different types of smoke produced by wildfires. For example, the bright white plume is known as the pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud. This is caused by dry smoke and sublimated ice, which is elevated by convection and rising heat from the fire.

Image taken by Landsat 8 OLI on June 30, 2021. Credit: NASA EO

The dark plume visible to the west of the image looks like that because it is composed of dry smoke produced by the drying and burning of the leaves. Wildfires occur naturally in the Pacific Northwest during the summer, but their range and intensity are increasing. Michael Fromm, a meteorologist at the Navy Research Institute (NRL), points out that this is a direct result of the recent heat waves that hit the interior of the BC.

“Forests are vulnerable each summer, with repeated large fires and pyroCbs,” he told NASAEO. Press statement.. “But there is no doubt that extreme heat and significant winds exacerbate the risk of fire.”

A series of fires broke out between record heat waves felt throughout the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. A week before Lytton evacuated, the town recorded the highest temperature ever seen in Canada for three consecutive days. On Tuesday, June 22, temperatures peaked at 49.6 C (121 ° F). Highest temperature ever recorded Until today in Canada.

To explain this heat wave, NASA’s Earth Observatory Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model. This map shows temperature anomalies in western Canada and across the United States on June 29, 2 meters (~ 6.5 feet) above the ground.th, 2021. The darkest red areas correspond to areas where temperatures were 20 ° C (36 ° F) higher than the average temperature recorded on June 29 each year between 2014 and 2020.

North American GEOS model-based temperature map during the heat wave in late June. Credit: NASA EO

These wildfires and their preceding temperature anomalies indicate the dangers posed by anthropogenic climate change. As temperatures continue to rise, the inner regions continue to experience hotter and drier summers, with more droughts and wildfires. In addition to increasing the likelihood of wildfires, the loss of groundwater makes the task of fighting and containing these fires more difficult.

At present, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached 409.8 ppm and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. This means that the current trend of hotter, drier summers and damper, more extreme winters will continue. The former threatens people’s lives and livelihoods with fires, droughts, and loss of arable land, while the latter does the same for floods, increased storm activity, and heavy rains that lead to topsoil erosion.

Earth observation is essential for all of this, not just because scientists and climatologists can observe where and how our climate is changing. It is also an important part of crisis management where satellite imagery and data can provide advance warning and up-to-date monitoring of hazards. In these and many other ways, going to space helps us become better caretakers of the planet.

References: NASA Earth Observatory

Wildfires come here after a record-breaking heat wave in British Columbia

SourceWildfires come here after a record-breaking heat wave in British Columbia

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