Sentinel-3 True Colour 2 Aug 2021

Widespread smoke from Turkish fires

26 July-2 August 2021

Sentinel-3 True Colour 2 Aug 2021
Sentinel-3 True Colour 2 Aug 2021

In summer 2021 parts of the Mediterranean Sea were shrouded in smoke from wildfires along Turkey's coast.

Last Updated

05 September 2023

Published on

03 August 2021

By Julien Chimot and Federico Fierli (EUMETSAT), HansPeter Roesli (Switzerland) and Sancha Lancaster (Pactum)

In the last few days of July numerous wildfires swept across the southern coastal regions of Turkey. At least eight people were reported to have died, and more than 10,000 evacuated, after the wildfires spread through more than 30 towns.

The Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) sensors onboard Sentinel-3A and -B picked up the signature of smoke from the fires in Turkey. On the Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) product (Processing Baseline 1.0 - Processor Version 2.0) from 26 July-1 August (Figure 1), the areas in red off the Turkish coast show where the highest concentration of smoke particles were.

Figure 1: Sentinel-3A/B, SLSTR Aerosol Optical Depth (Processing Baseline 1.0 - Processor Version 2.0), 26 July-1 Aug. Red areas show the high levels of smoke particles.

During the day the SLSTR instrument detects the abundance of air suspended particles, and monitors the immediate threats related to the variability and long-range transport of any type of air suspended particles. Commonly gathered under the name of ‘aerosols’, these are not only nitrates and sulfates from anthropogenic activities, but also smoke from wildfires (as in this case), desert dust, sea salt spray, black soot, and volcanic ashes. The Sentinel-3 NRT Aerosol product, which EUMETSAT has exclusive responsibility for as part of the Copernicus programme, measures the blanketing effect of aerosol on the light and is, hence, related to the overall abundance of particles in the air. All observations are made available in less than three hours from the SLSTR observation sensing time. You can find out more about Sentinel-3 AOD in this Copernicus Sentinel-3 NRT Aerosol Optical Depth science study.

Hotspots from the fires (in red) can also be seen on the animation of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 NRT Fire Radiative Power (FRP) product for the same period (Figure 2). The red FRP pixels can be seen rising up in southern Turkey from 28 July.

Figure 2: Sentinel-3A/B SLSTR FRP MWIR/SWIR with SAA common, 26 July-1 August.

The Copernicus NRT S3 FRP product identifies the location, and quantifies the radiative power, of any hotspot present on land and ocean Earth surfaces that radiates a heating signal within a pixel size of 1 km2. You can find out more about Sentinel-3 FRP in this Copernicus Sentinel-3 NRT Fire Radiative Power (FRP) science study.

Meteosat-11 also captured imagery of the smoke plumes billowing off the coast on 30 July, as seen in the Natural Colour animation (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Meteosat-11 Natural Colour RGB, 03:00-16:00 UTC.

Three days later, as a result of the continuing fires, Sentinel-3 OLCI captured imagery of the large smoke plumes spreading over the Mediterranean (Figure 4).

Sentinel-3 True Colour 2 Aug 2021
Figure 4: Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour, 2 August 08:20 UTC

Additional content

Copernicus: Mediterranean region evolves into wildfire hotspot, while fire intensity reaches new records in Turkey (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS))
Smoke billows from fires in Turkey (ESA)
Fires in Turkey (NASA Worldview)
Turkey wildfires continue to rage as thermal power plant 'threatened' (euronews)
Turkish fires sweeping through tourist areas are the hottest on record (The Guardian)