Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

123,420 subscribers and counting ...

By in
| Earth on Dec 16, 2012

2012 extraordinary year for wildfires in US

Check out this map. The year 2012 has been extraordinary for wildfires in the United States.

Check out this map. The year 2012 has been extraordinary for wildfires in the United States.

Records maintained by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show that more than 9.1 million acres had burned as of November 30, 2012. That’s the third highest total in a record that dates back to 1960. Although the year’s total number of fires — 55,505 — was lowest on the NIFC record, the average fire size was the highest on the record.

Image credit: NASA. See larger image

The visualization above depicts fires that burned between January 1 and October 31, 2012, as detected by NASA satellite instruments. Yellow and orange indicates fires that were more intense and had a larger area of active burning. Most of these intense fires occurred in the western United States, where lightning and human activity often sparks blazes that firefighters cannot contain. Many of the lower intensity fires shown in red were prescribed fires, lit for either agricultural or ecosystem management purposes.

Read more from NASA Earth Observatory