NASA’s Finnish nuclear power plant’s satellite highlights California’s nocturnal forest fires
These nocturnal satellite images taken by the NOAA-NASA Finnish Nuclear Power Plant satellite on August 20, 2020 show striking images of California’s wildfires. At about 3:01 a.m. PDT, NOAA-NASA’s Finland Nuclear Power Plant was almost directly overhead and imaged the area using different frequencies on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Large fires can be easily seen in this picture. The day/night band of the Finnish nuclear power plant clearly showed that smoke scattered lights in the Central Valley from both the LNU and SCU lightning complexes.
California is experiencing large, ongoing wildfires across much of the state, as well as a heat wave that has produced a “heat dome” of “heat death” across much of the state. Interagency Fire Meteorologist Nicky Nausler tweeted on Aug. 18: “7,000+ flash strikes have started more than 350 fires, including several large fires and complexes in central and northern California.” These storms produced more than 53,262 lightning strikesAccording to Chris Vagasky of the US National Lightning Detection Network, not everyone on Twitter was cloud-to-ground and some were in the Pacific. However, 13,845 were from cloud to earth. Some of the fires caused by these impacts have merged and become large fire entities, such as the two largest complexes, the LNU Lightning Complex and the SCU Lightning Complex. The amount of lightning that occurred over the course of three and a half days is 9% of what California typically sees in a year.
The LNU fire complex is currently 215,000 acres with 0% coverage. The fire complex consists of seven fires that were ignited by lightning on August 17 in the Napa Valley region. LNU stands for Lake Napa Unit, which is the fire unit currently fighting the complex fire. The LNU fire complex is now the ninth largest fire in California history. The second complex is the SCU complex, which has consumed 157,475 acres and is 5% contained. This fire is a complex of over 20 fires and is located near Santa Clara where it is controlled by the Santa Clara Fire Department.
Some of these pods are so powerful that they can “create” their own weather systems. Wildfires generate hot air that rises up creating a draft. As air rises, moisture enters upper atmosphere cools and condenses the air on top of the ash into water droplets, including rising ones, which condense into a cloud. A cloud created by a fire is called a pyrocumulus or “fire cloud”. If the fire is large enough, a pyrocumulonimbus cloud can form, which is not just a fire cloud, but a storm cloud that can produce winds and lightning, continuing the cycle by starting more fires. Updrafts can also produce tornadoes or even “fire tornadoes” when the updraft occurs so quickly that it creates a swirling effect and a fire tornado is created.
Extended heat wavedry forest conditions and unusual August storms combine to create California’s current situation. Face masks, which were once only used to fight the new coronavirus, have also become a way to protect residents from the effects of smoke. also covers the state.
Currently, more than 48,000 people have been evacuated from the state due to the prevailing wildfire situation.
NASA’s satellite instruments are often the first to detect wildfires in remote areas, and the locations of new fires are sent directly to earth managers around the world within hours of the satellite passing by. Together, NASA’s instruments detect actively burning fires, track smoke drift from fires, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of ecosystem changes based on the extent and severity of burns. NASA has a fleet of Earth observation instruments, many of which help us understand fire in the country system. Satellites orbiting the poles provide observations of the entire planet several times a day, while satellites in geostationary orbit provide coarse-resolution images of fires, smoke, and clouds every 5 to 15 minutes.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Quotation: NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite highlights nighttime forest fires in California (2020, August 21) retrieved on 20 November 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2020-08-nasa-suomi-npp-satellite-highlights.html
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