Fires: More Frequent, More Intense
Fires: More Frequent, More Intense


The National Climate Assessment says that climate change is making many forests more vulnerable to ecosystem changes and tree mortality through insect infestations, drought, disease outbreaks, and fire.

NASA uses satellite data to investigate forests and fire in the U.S. and worldwide, allowing scientists to track and understand large-scale patterns of forest disturbances. Climate models that use NASA satellite data and other information project drier conditions that will cause increased fire activity in parts of the western U.S. in the coming decades.

This image shows fire intensity in the U.S. from 2000 through 2013. It is part of a visualization that incorporates active fire data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites. The red dots represent lower intensity fires, many of which were prescribed fires, lit for either agricultural or ecosystem management purposes. Most of the more intense fires (orange and yellow) occurred in the western United States, where lightning and human activity often sparks blazes that are more challenging for firefighters to contain.

To learn more about NASA fire research and imagery, please visit:

To learn more about the National Climate Assessment, please visit: NCA2014.globalchange.gov 

To learn more about other NASA missions that contribute to understanding climate change, visit: climate.nasa.gov

To learn more about NASA's Earth science activities in 2014, please visit: www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow

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Page Last Updated: May 8th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines