March 27, 2011 - Fires in southeastern United States

Fires in southeastern United States

Dozens of fires covered the southeastern United States on March 18, 2011, as evidenced by the multiple red hotspots that speckle the landscape. Many of the hotspots are associated with thick, gray smoke plumes. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on the same day.

Many of the fires burn in dark green areas, which most likely represent forested land. In other areas the fires are in light green areas, suggestive of agricultural land. In this region, springtime is the season for burning vegetation to clear land for planting and pasture, as well as for prescribed burns to manage forestland. Most of these fires are probably either agricultural or prescribed burns.

The large gray plumes blow toward the northeast, and appear to extend hundreds of miles by the strong prevailing winds in several places. Strong winds increase the risk of wildfires, as small, managed fires can easily spread out of control. Strong wind also disperses smoke over wide-ranging areas, causing a smoky haze hang across the region.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 3/18/2011
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC