September 27, 2012 - Smoke and fires across western United States and Canada

Smoke and fires across western United States and Canada

Wildfires have been plaguing the western United States and Canada throughout the summer of 2012. While the fires in the western United States are well-documented, with many images published of the events, news of Canadian fires has been published less commonly.

On September 22, 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on September 22, 2012 once again captured images of fires across Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. However, in this image, the view also extends into western Canada. Fires can be seen in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Although this is a near record year for wildfires in the western U.S., this is actually a below average year for fires in British Columbia. British Columbia has seen at least 1,522 separate wildfires start since April 1, 2012 which have consumed 171,493 acres (69,401 hectares).

Alberta has had 1,482 wildfires to date burning over 980,091 acres (396,629 hectares). This is an average fire season in terms of number of fires for Alberta with the five year average being 1432, however the area affected by the fires is much larger than average. Nearly the same number of fires have actually burned almost twice as much land area, with the average of 598,261 acres (242,108 hectares).

Saskatchewan has seen unusually high temperatures and dry conditions this wildfires season resulting in a larger number of grassfires. This province has seen 401 wildfires to date affecting 572,790 acres (231,800 hectares). This is above the ten-year average of 323 wildfires annually.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 9/22/2012
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC