Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba

Smoke & dust streamers over Argentina seen by Meteosat-10

10 September 2013 10:30–21:30 UTC

Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba
Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba

Strong winds, high temperatures, and months of drought fuelled an outbreak of wildfire in northern Argentina in September 2013.

Last Updated

01 August 2022

Published on

10 September 2013

By Jochen Kerkmann (EUMETSAT) and HansPeter Roesli (Switzerland)

The fires burned mainly in forests, shrub lands, and grasslands that are part of arid chaco and espinal ecosystems.

The numerous smoke plumes from the wildfires can be clearly seen in the Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB image from 10 September (Figure 1). Smoke plumes have a blue tint in this image.

Smoke and dust streamers over Argentina as seen by Meteosat-10
Figure 1: Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB, 10 September 20:00 UTC

The image was taken at 20:00 UTC (afternoon), when aerosols, like smoke, dust, ash, haze, over South America produce a strong signal in Meteosat visible imagery because of the strong forward scattering of sunlight by aerosols. Some hot spots (fires) can be seen in early morning images (see animation in Figure 2), for these image the hottest pixels in the IR3.9 channel have been overlaid on the RGB image.

Figure 2: Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB and IR3.7, 10 September 10:30-21:30 UTC

Note also the dust streamers lifted from the Mar Chiquita (Cordoba province) and from salinas in the western foothills of the Andes (Salinas and JuJuy provinces) by the strong pre-frontal northerly and north-westerly winds (see frontal system in the lower part of the images). The dust streamers appear light brownish in the Natural Colour RGB images.

For comparison, the dust RGB product for the same time period (10:30 to 21:30 UTC) is also shown. The start of the dust plume from the Mar Chiquita can be estimated to be at around 12:45 UTC. Note that the dust RGB does not show the smoke plumes, because smoke is nearly transparent in mid-IR and IR imagery.

Figure 3: Meteosat-10 Dust RGB, 10 September 10:30 to 21:30 UTC

Finally, note also the sunglint on the high frontal clouds in the Natural Colour RGB which appear nearly white. Normally, the colour of high-level ice clouds in this RGB product is cyan.

Additional content

Channel 04 animation, 11 September 2013, 01:00–07:00 UTC
NASA's imagery and assessment