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Apocalypse Watch: Worrying new NASA images show a world on fire

NASA’s WorldView application shows the true extent of the global damage caused by the intense heat and wildfires across the planet

Apocalypse Watch: Worrying new NASA images show a world on fire
24 August 2018

By this point you’re probably aware that it has been pretty hot in recent weeks. You’ll know this due to the spate of sleepless, sweaty nights everyone in the UK keeps telling you about every morning, and also by the troubling amount of fires that have been breaking out across the globe on a regular basis.

What you’re possibly not aware of is the sheer extent of the blazes that are currently engulfing the planet – wildfires are breaking out at an alarming rate and destroying crops and livelihoods at every turn. It’s a clear sign the the world’s climate is changing drastically before our very eyes and despite the protestations of Global Warming deniers like Donald Trump, scientists have hinted that the recent freak weather could become the norm.

In the UK alone we’ve seen aggressive fires decimate large grassy areas including: Saddleworth Moor (which took three weeks and 100 soldiers to bring under control) and just last month London’s Wanstead Flats was ablaze in what has become the largest ever grassfire in the capital. The ensuing flames quickly grew to the size of 100 football pitches and took a team of 70 firefighters and 10 fire engines to get under control. 

The damage left behind on Wanstead Flats after a blaze dubbed ‘London’s largest grassfire’

Now new images from NASA’s WorldView application show the true extent of the global damage, much of which is still burning strong.

The images which were taken using NASA satellites which used thermal bands to detect active, burning fires and illustrate the exact locations using red dots. As you can see from the image below things don’t look great.

(Image: NASA WorldView - take a closer look here)

According to NASA and as reported by CNET, at any one point there will always be a fire of some description, somewhere on the planet. This much isn’t unusual, with the fires themselves comprised of a mix of controlled burns or agricultural fires (often to dispose of waste) and genuine wildfires that spread uncontrollably.

From the above satellite image, the most worrying areas at a glance appear to be those currently consuming a fifth of the African continent, although this is likely to be caused by controlled and strategic flames to manage farming land and return much-needed nutrients to the soil.

Elsewhere, however, the heat isn’t quite so well organised. Red dots appearing in North America, Chile and Australia are likely wildfires bursting into life sporadically due to the heightened weather conditions. 

“Native forests are being transformed into “flammable tree plantations.”

A recent study conducted by Montana State University found that: “Besides low humidity, high winds and extreme temperatures are some of the same factors contributing to fires raging across the United States.”

Meanwhile, in Chile the nation is experiencing a “mega drought” with enormous sections of its diverse, native forests being transformed into “flammable tree plantations.”

Australia is also seeing a sudden rush of blazes throughout the outback, most of which are classed as bushfires caused by dry spells. This is a relatively regular occurrence on the continent but conditions have been heightened by the soaring heat of 2018.

Writing on their website, NASA warned that the worse may be yet to come for our pals down under, with the American stargazers stating: “As the climate continues to change and areas become hotter and drier, more and more extreme bushfires will break out across the entire Australian continent.”

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) or WorldView allows users to browse over 700, full-resolution satellite images of the world and also download explanatory data, most of which is updated on a three-hourly basis to give an incredibly accurate depiction of the Earth as it is ‘right now’.

(Main image: Getty)