Monday, September 2, 2013

Yosemite and the Rim Fire ~ A NASA Perspective


Smoke from the Rim Fire choked Yosemite National Park during the busy Labor Day Weekend. Air quality reached unhealthy levels from Yosemite to the San Joaquin Valley, warned the National Weather Service in an air quality alert.Since fine particles in smoke can irritate the eyes and respiratory system and aggravate chronic heart and lung disease, people were advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity or remain indoors.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this view of the fire and smoke on August 31, 2013. Red boxes outline the active fire areas detected by MODIS. The smoke is brown and smooth in texture compared to the bright white clouds.

The smoke is thick, entirely blocking the view of the ground from space. From the ground, the smoke obscured Yosemite’s normally pristine views. The lower photos contrast August 31 and September 2, 2013, from the National Park Service’s Turtleback Dome webcam. Turtleback Dome is south of the Rim Fire, immediately west of Yosemite Valley.

By September 2, the Rim Fire had burned 228,670 acres (357 square miles), making it the largest fire in the United States so far in 2013. The fire is 60 percent contained and is threatening 4,500 buildings. Eleven homes and 100 other buildings have been destroyed. The fire started on August 17 and is expected to be contained by September 20.

download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 2200x2800)

AirNow How smoke from fires can affect your health. Accessed September 2, 2013
California Smoke Information (2013, August 31) Air quality alerts and advisories. Accessed September 2, 2013.
InciWeb (2013, September 2) Rim Fire. Accessed September 2, 2013.
NBC News (2013, September 2) Rim Fire at 225,000 acres as Calif. officials search for cause of massive blaze.Accessed September 2, 2013.
U.S. Air Quality (2013, August 31) Weekend edition: Breaking up the monotony. Accessed September 2, 2013.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.
Photos courtesyNational Park Service. Caption by Holli Riebeek.
Instrument: Aqua - MODIS

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