The Sciences

Russia is on fire

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitAug 10, 2010 3:33 PM

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I had heard that there were severe and extensive fires raging out of control in Russia, but I had no idea how bad it was until I saw this picture:

This image was taken by the European Space Agency's Envisat Earth-observing satellite. Moscow is in the lower left corner of the frame, and the field of view is several hundred kilometers across. Dozens of plumes from forest and peat bog fires can be seen scattered everywhere. That area of the world is experiencing record heat, with temperatures over 35° C, far higher than usual. That's dried out the region, making it a tinderbox for fires. Smoke blowing over Moscow is making pollution ten times normal amounts. When I lived in California, a fire in a town about 25 kilometers away made life difficult for us; the smoke was awful. I imagine things must be incredibly bad in Russia right now, and I hope very much that these fires can be put under control as rapidly as possible.

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