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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Wine Country Burning

Wine Country Burning

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 10, 2017/Categories: photography, space science, sustainability, climate change

                                     Northern California Fires, October 10, 2017  (credit: AQUA Project)

The wine growing region of California including Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties are on fire. Multiple blazes erupted from a toxic combination of super-dry environmental conditions, winds exceeding 60mph, and sparks that flew in all directions propagating new fires as they settled. Property destruction has been widespread, smoke has been photographed spreading over the Pacific Ocean, and the fires continue to rage. The economic and environmental costs haven't begun to be calculated.

Remote-sensing magery is being gathered by NASA's environmental Aqua project showing the fire's extent and growth. The Earth monitoring satellite uses a "camera" called MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) with both visible and infrared light wavelength scanners. The thermal (IR) bands viewed active 'hot spots', burning areas outlined in red, by detecting temperatures higher than the natural background.

According to NASA, "fifteen fires ignited late on Sunday (October 8th), remain mostly uncontained, and will likely to continue spreading because of heat, low humidity, and wind in the heart of California's wine country. Despite the massive number of firefighters deployed to fight the flames, fires remain 0% contained at present." 

Fall in California is typically characterized by hot, dry, and windy weather. Gusty winds driven by high-pressure systems over the deserts, blow over the Sierra Nevada mountains, through the valleys, out towards coasts. Such gusts can accelerate build-up of a fire by moving embers from burning woodlands to structures and buildings elsewhere.

 

                                             California Fires October 9, 2017 (credit: Aqua Project)

A Califonria CBS station's broadcast provides an on-the-ground perspective on the extent of the fires, the prospects for control, and how the first responders and local residents have been facing the disaster:

WHB

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