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Satellite cam captures wildfires in southern Russia

Early this year, smoke from fires in southern Russia drifted all the way across the Pacific Ocean to the Pacific Northwest.

By
Brooks Hays
NASA's Aqua satellite and its MODIS cam captured imagery of the wildfires burning in south central Russia, near Lake Baikal. Photo by NASA/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS/LANCE/EOSDIS
NASA's Aqua satellite and its MODIS cam captured imagery of the wildfires burning in south central Russia, near Lake Baikal. Photo by NASA/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS/LANCE/EOSDIS

SIBERIA, Russia, July 27 (UPI) -- Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake by volume, is surrounded by wildfires. On Monday, NASA's Aqua satellite and its MODIS camera captured an aerial perspective of the wildfire plumes rising from southern Russia.

Aqua's Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observes radiation across 36 different spectral bands, offering scientists one of the most complete image-based surveys of the planet -- newly updated every two days. One of the instrument's primary applications is monitoring wildfires.

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Wildfires have plagued the steppe region of south central Russia throughout the spring and summer. The flames were picked up by MODIS' thermal band observations and rendered with the help of NASA scientists.

The situation has been exacerbated by recent droughts in the region, which have seen Lake Baikal's water levels -- already burdened by human pressures -- fall to historically low levels. As the water levels drop, large swaths of quickly drying peat deposits have become exposed. Officials worry these peat reserves could fuel spreading wildfires.

Early this year, smoke from fires in southern Russia drifted all the way across the Pacific Ocean. The haze's arrival in the Pacific Northwest made for some dramatic red sunsets.

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