Category: David Hsu

Wildfires Threaten Largest Tree in the World

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Multiple wildfires in Sequoia National Park have burned a total of 43,375 acres. The park is home to the world’s largest tree by volume, the General Sherman Tree. Sequoia trees are the largest species of trees by volume and can live to be over 2,000 years old. To protect the Tree and other large ancient trees, firefighters have wrapped the base of the trunks with fireproof blankets. Strict fire management practices have thinned smaller trees and brush to keep the fire low to the ground and not kill the large trees. Sprinkler systems have been set up to protect the trees and structures inside of the park. A preliminary assessment of the sequoia trees may take days due to the difficult terrain. As of now the fire has not damaged the General Sherman Tree. Pictured are the VNF detections for September 15th-19th 2021. Along with the SNPP VIIRS day/night band radiances for September 19th.

Large Wildfires in California

By Elijah Mt. Castle

California has experienced several large wildfires over the month of August. The Dixie fire has been burning since July 13th and has grown over 910,000 acres. The Caldor fire started August 14th and has grown to over 216,000 acres. The River Complex and Monument Fire  both started on July 30th and are relatively smaller fires, 121,000 and 183,000 acres respectively. Numerous structures have been destroyed and thousands of residents have been displaced by the various fires. The Dixie Fire alone has destroyed 692 homes. The Monument Fire and River Complex were started by lightning. The other major fires are still under investigation. Dry conditions and wind have severely impacted fire suppression tactics over the month and all fires specifically listed are continuing to burn into September with some having predicted containment in October. Pictured are the VIIRS Night Fire detections for August with an associated temperature range. The darker the color in a location the longer a detection has been present. Also pictured is the VIIRS day/night band radiance for August 17th.

Bootleg Fire – Largest Active Fire in US

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Bootleg fire in Oregon is the largest active fire in the United States. The fire started on July 6th and has burned 232,763 acres since it started. The fire has destroyed 21 homes and 54 other structures and is threatening 1,900 others. Drought, high temperatures, and high winds have severely hampered fire suppression efforts. Multiple other fires in the region have been splitting focus as well. The Bootleg fire is only 7% contained and sitting at an area larger than New York City is threatening multiple towns in the area. The cause of the Bootleg fire is still unknown. Pictured are the VNF detections for July 6th through July 14th, 2021. Pictured with the Bootleg fire is the smaller Jack Fire. Also pictured is the Earth Observation Group’s Nighttime Lights for July 10th.

California Fire Season Begins

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Willow Fire in the Big Sur region of California is 19% contained. The fire started in Los Padres National Forest and has caused a closure of the area. The Forest Service has put a $5,000 fine and/or six months jail time on anyone who attempts to enter the closure area. Due to the remote nature of the fire, firefighters need to be flown in by helicopter to tend to the fire. Crews have been able to reuse previously made fire breaks in the area and the fire is situated between large burn scars from the 2020 and 2016 fire season. As of writing there has been no reported loss of life or property. Pictured are the VNF detections for June 18th thru the 21st. Also pictured is the EOG Nighttime lights for June 19th.

Multiple Wildfires in Manitoba Contained

By Elijah Mt. Castle

The Canadian province of Manitoba has been experiencing multiple wildfires over the last couple of weeks. Dry conditions are to blame for the fires. As of May 14th, all blazes have been contained. The most recent wildfire sparked the 13th and grew to around 80 hectares (198 acres). This fire is now around 50 hectares in size. Several RVs and trailers from a storage site were damaged, however there is no other reported property damage. Due to the incredibly dry conditions, Manitoba has banned campfires and back-country camping. Numerous trails have been closed for the safety of hikers. Officials say the trails are closed so focus can be placed on fighting wildfires instead of rescue. Pictured are the VNF detections for May 13th-14th 2021. Contains information licensed under the Open Government License – Canada.

Earth Day 2021

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Earth Day is an international day of environmental protection. Started on April 22, 1970 Earth Day is now observed in over 193 countries. Earth Day was first proposed at the 1969 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by activist John McConnell. The event originally took place on March 21, but it was moved to April 22nd when United States Senator Gaylord Nelson suggested hosting nationwide sessions to raise environmental awareness. Earth Day is a day to celebrate conservation and peace between the nations of the world. The Paris Climate Agreement was signed on Earth Day in 2016 by over 120 countries around the world. This agreement has helped strengthen both diplomatic ties and global climate change mitigation. We here at the Earth Observation Group would like to wish you a happy Earth Day.

Multiple Wildfires in Nuevo León

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Mexico is currently facing one of its worst forest fire seasons in decades. Over 1,000 people have been evacuated in Nuevo León, Mexico alone. Drought conditions and high winds have severely hindered firefighting efforts. The La Niña weather system has caused high winds with gusts up to 90kph. These high winds have grounded helicopter fire fighting units. This year alone, fire has destroyed over 29,000 hectares(~72,000 acre) of forest nationwide, the third largest loss of forest land in a decade. There are currently 75 active wildfires across Mexico. Pictured are the VNF detections in Nuevo León for March 17th -28th 2021. Also pictured is the EOG Nighttime Lights mosaic for March 27th 2021. The more pronounced the color is on the map, the longer fire has been burning there.

Weeks Long Fire Contained in Similipal National Park

By Elijah Mt. Castle

Similipal National Park has been aflame since February 24th 2021, and is now contained according to government officials. The associated tiger sanctuary also caught fire. The park, located in Odisha India, is an important biosphere for the country. Roughly one third of the forest has been destroyed or gutted for fire breaks. Fires have also been raging in surrounding areas for weeks. There have not been any reports of loss of life because of the fire, and most of the larger animals have moved to the inner-part of the preserve to escape the fire. Smaller animals and flora were not so lucky. Many reptiles and medicinal plants were killed in the fire. The exact cause of the fire is not known, but it is speculated to be man made. Many locals will burn away dead leaves to collect seeds and flowers used in alcohol and other products. The Odisha government is currently taking volunteers and paying locals to help keep the blaze contained. Pictured are the VNF detections for February 24th – March 12th 2021 in and around Similipal. The more pronounced the color is the longer the fire has been burning at that location. Also pictured are the EOG Nighttime Lights for March 6th.