Alaska Wildfires - Summer of 2015

MODIS July - August 2015 land surface temperature difference from average showing active burn areas, burn scars, and dry vegetation

The summer of 2015 was Alaska's worst fire season on record, with over 5 million acres of burned area. Scientists point to climatic transformation potentially remaking the state, its forests, coasts, glaciers, and frozen ground beneath. Alaska winter and spring of 2015 was exceptionally warm, with record low snowfall. These combined conditions of warm temperature and low snowfall led to extreme wildfire conditions in 2015.


2014 Carleton Complex Fire, Wenatchee, Washington

A lightning ignition on July 14, 2014 started 3 fires near Wenatchee, WA which merged to form the Carleton Complex Fire and burned until August 11, 2014. This fire burned 256,000 acres and destroyed 300 homes to become the worst fire in Washington state history. The fire started amidst drought conditions that left the vegetation as dry abundant fuel. High temperature and winds during the fire also aided this fire. See the following links to explore atmospheric and land surface conditions before and after the fire. 

We can use Climate Engine to look at the weather, soil, vegetation conditions that led to the fire, aided that fire and show the extent of the fire.

METDATA Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) from July 1- 14th, 2014 illustrating long term drought conditions 2 weeks before the fire

PDSI is a standardized measure of soil moisture and is a measure of long term drought. In this example, we see that in the Wenatchee area (the Carleton Fire Extent on August 8th, 2014 is outlined in black on the map) had PDSI values of -5 and -6,  indicating extreme dryness. 


MODIS September - December, 2014 NDVI percent of 2013 values


2013 Yosemite Rim Fire

Landsat 7 and 8 August - September 2013 Normalized Burn Ratio Thermal Index (NBRT) illustrating burned areas in Yosemite Park

The Rim Fire is the largest wildfire on record in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Rim Fire started on August 17, 2013 in a remote canyon in Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada, California. The fire burned 1,041.31 km2 (402.053 sq mi). The Rim Fire was fully contained on October 24, 2013. The NBRT shows the August - September burn area in red. See the following links to explore atmospheric and land surface conditions before and after the fire. 


Landsat 7 and 8 August - September 2014 NDVI difference from average showing burned area one year after the Yosemite Rim Fire