Sensors in Earth orbit give us the capability to monitor vast areas, daily, in near real-time. I’ve been working with daily NASA MODIS MOD14A1 data to map seasonal fire activity since the data begin year 2000. The map below illustrates the single most active day so far in 2015 for North America with fires ravaging central western Canada and interior Alaska.
A new strongest fire season?
Through 18 July, 2015, these data indicate the cumulative radiative power of North American fires to be the highest on record in the period of observations beginning in 2000. For July, 2015 fire power is 2.5 times the sixteen summer average 2000-2015. The fire season spikes above the annual average earlier in the year than in other years.
reporting from myyellowknifenow.com [29 June, 2015]:
Western Canada experienced more than 600 fires over the weekend, according to territorial authorities.
Canadian provinces and territories pool their firefighting resources in these circumstances. While the NWT has requested more backup, other provinces are perceived to have a “dire need” and are first in line.
“Saskatchewan, for instance, is undergoing a series of evacuations of communities,” said Frank Lepine, the territory’s associate director of forest management. “Manitoba is pretty close to that.
“The NWT will be receiving some single resources but no more crews at this time. [But] that may change by the end of the week.”
There are 129 fires burning in the NWT, which has experienced a total of 158 fires so far this season. The 20-year average is 66 fires for this time of year.
And the 2015 fire season is not yet over.
According to this analysis, the previous year 2014 ended by setting the annual record for cumulative fire power for North America. Year 2004 fires were concentrated around the Alaska Canada border.
Scanning past news stirs recent intense memories….
Canada’s Northwest Territories are on fire. The region is experiencing its hottest, driest summer in 50 years, and wildfire activity is more than six times the 25-year average. While blazes in sparsely populated northern Canada have a minimal impact on human safety and infrastructure, they have an outsized effect on the environment: The ancient, stunted boreal forests, or taiga, ringing the Arctic Circle contain 30 percent of the world’s land-based carbon.
July 2, 2004 — A pall of smoke the size of Texas continues to blanket most of Alaska, as several dozen wildfires continue to burn out of control. More than a million acres have burned in the state. There are currently 61 active fires in the state, mostly in the eastern interior
Alaska had a record warm summer with a statewide temperature of 4.6 degrees F (2.6 degrees C) above the 1971-2000 mean. May, June, July and August were all record breaking for the state.
Is the smoke drifting to Greenland?
Dark Snow Project has been busy gathering field data this summer in Greenland. We shall report on these. So, stay tuned!