Forest fires in the world : how to observe them and measure their impact in the atmosphere ?

© Pixabay - Colorado

Since the beginning of the summer, about 150,000 fires are in progress around the world, often driven by record heat waves. According to researchers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the planet will experience an “unprecedented” increase in extreme weather events. However, while the planet has gained for the moment about 1°C above the pre-industrial level (with a range of 0.8 to 1.2°C), we can already measure the first consequences of this warming.

Thus, the summer of 2021 seems to be one of the terrible illustrations. For several weeks now, the gloomy records have followed one another. In the United States, California is facing the second largest fire in its history. Siberia is facing fires of a rarely equalled intensity, some 8.7 million hectares have already gone up in smoke and the smoke plumes now reach the North Pole. In southern Europe, Turkey and Greece have also faced fires of an unprecedented scale, facilitated by an unprecedented heat wave. The same is true in southern Italy and now in Algeria, Tunisia …
Satellite data to observe and analyze this phenomenon

The AERIS data center offers access to numerous satellite data to observe and measure the impact of fires on the atmosphere.

Like IASI (Atmospheric Infrared Sounding Interferometer): this instrument developed by CNES in cooperation with EUMETSAT equips the European Metop meteorological satellites. Its strength: IASI measures more than 25 atmospheric components with great precision and participates in climate monitoring. Thanks to IASI, scientists can detect carbon monoxide and monitor smoke plumes caused by fires, as in the animation below showing smoke plumes in the United States and Siberia.

In additional to the detection and monitoring of atmospheric gases such as carbon monoxide or methane present in smoke plumes, the IASI instrument can also measure the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere and thus detect climatic anomalies: the record heat waves in Canada have been detected by the IASI instrument

IASI level 2 satellite data are available on the IASI portal managed and hosted by AERIS.

Other satellite data allow us to observe fires such as geostationary satellites: thanks to an animation combining images from several geostationary satellites, the site The Wall allows us to see the extent of fires in different parts of the planet as for example in this animation showing the Dixie fires in California and Siberia.

➡️ More information on the AERIS website