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Where on Earth: Burn Scars in Alaska

What are the brownish-red areas in this false-color satellite image?
Credits

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).
 
Story adapted from Image of the Day post by Adam Voiland: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/86311/burn-scars-around-tanana-alaska

  • Image of Burn Scars near Tanana River in Alaska from the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager, Landsat 8, July 24, 2015
  • Image of Smoke Rising from Fire, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Aqua satellite, June 22, 2015
  • Three firefighting images taken by Sherman Hogue, Fort Wainwright Public Affairs Office, from Alaska Army National Guard Helicopter
  • Image of Alaska after fires are out, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Aqua satellite, September 1, 2015
  • Written by Katherine Porter
  • Designed by Dani Player
  • Music from Yesh Music (ASCAP)
Transcript

(SPEECH)
[GENTLE MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Text, Title, Where on Earth? Several colorful topographies scroll past then a single shot goes full-screen.
 
The view from space shows a mostly green landscape with a blue track meandering across in the upper half, with two red masses on either side.
 
Question, what are the brownish-red areas in this false-color satellite image? Mud flats in China, burned forest in Alaska, deforested areas in Brazil, or flooded rice fields in Thailand.
 
Answer, burned forest. Labels appear on the map showing The Tanana River, the green unburned forest, and the red burn scars. Text, Of the more than 700 fires that rages across the tundra and forest of Alaska in 2015, those near the small town of Tanana were responsible for the largest portion of the damage.
 
The Tanana fires charred an area half the size of Rhode Island. Residents were evacuated, with some forced to flee by boat because the airstrip was so blanketed with smoke.
 
In total, more than 5 million acres burned in Alaska in 2015, making it the second-largest fire season on record.
 
Another satellite image. Label on image reads, Moderate resolution imaging, spectroradiometer, Aqua satellite, June 22, 2015. The landscape shows active fire areas along green sections and extensive smoke covering half the image. Several close-up images of the fire appear over the text.
 
Text, the frequency of wildfires in Alaska has increased significantly over the past several decades. In this, many scientists see the fingerprints of climate change.
 
Another satellite image shows a green landscape with burn scars dotting the area in and surrounding Tanana.
 
Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, rapid melting of winter snowpack, and changes in rainfall patterns can combine to create conditions favorable to wildfires.
 
The topography zooms out until all of Alaska is visible and then the whole globe, surrounded by the darkness of space.
 
Title, Where on Earth?