Smoke from wildfires in Portugal

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Smoke from widespread wildfires which ravaged parts of Portugal in early August 2016, was seen by Meteosat-10 on 8 August.

Smoke from wildfires in Portugal
Date & Time
08 August 2016 15:30 UTC and 10 August 08:30 UTC
Natural Colour RGB, Infrared

By Mark Higgins

The imagery, Figure 1 (above right) and animation, shows the smoke as a light blue colour (indicated with red arrows on Figure 1) travelling from the fires across the Atlantic Ocean . The red hot spots are identified from the 3.9 micron channel. These are often indicative of burning areas.

Although wildfires are common in the summer months, a state of emergency was declared in northern Portugal after more than 700 fires raged for days.

Download animation (MP4, 676 KB)
Download full resolution image

Figure 2
Figure 2: Meteosat-10 Natural Colour RGB & infrared, 10 August 08:30 UTC

Fires on Maderia

In the following days the Portuguese island of Maderia was also hit be severe wildfires. Figure 2 is the Meteosat-10 image showing the hotspots where fires were present.

Thousands were evacuated, hundreds of properties were damaged and at least three people died as a result of the fires.

The two Suomi-NPP VIIRS images, at 375m resolution, from 10 Aug 14:15 UTC (Figure 3), show more details of the fires in the early afternoon.

The Natural Colour RGB (left) shows burnt scars (blue-grey), flame marks (orange pixels), two of which are found in the eastern burn scar (near Funchal), and two smoke plumes driven off the southern coast by the north-eastern trade winds.

When the hot spots, pixels with temperature around 320 K taken from band IR3.74, are added to the RGB (right), the extent of the two areas set on fire is very visible.

Image comparison
Suomi-NPP Natural Colour RGB Natural Colour RGB with infrared
Comparison of Suomi-NPP VIIRS images, 10 Aug 14:15 UTC, showing the extent and intense heat of the fires.

The sequence of Natural Colour RGB, 10 Aug 08:00–18:00 UTC (MP4, 924 KB) shows the bluish smoke that moves of the coast under north-east trade winds.

While at the beginning of the movie the smoke is essentially originating from the north west corner of Madeira, during the day a second fire area became active near Funchal, sending out a second smoke plume.

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