A large grass fire that started August 2 burned over 58,000 acres of grassland and destroyed over 380 homes in Creek County, Oklahoma. Residents of small towns in the path of the fire were evacuated in this drought stricken area west of the city of Tulsa. The fire was extinguished within days and residents were allowed back by the end of the month. An arson suspect has been charged for starting the fire. With daytime temperatures frequently topping 100 degrees, efforts to contain and control wildfires in western states have become increasingly difficult.
Image of the Week
Images found during the week that show change from our past that correlate to current events.
Étang Saumâtre and Lago Enriquillo are saline lakes found in Hispaniola’s rift valley along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Since both lakes are in a depression, there is no outflow to drain the lakes, so they are at the mercy of evaporation, rainfall variability, and runoff from the surrounding countryside. These three Landsat images from 1986, 2004, and 2012 show how dramatically the lake levels can fluctuate.
Lightning started the Mustang Complex Fire in northeastern Idaho on July 30, 2012, and soon had consumed more than 330,000 acres of mountainous pine forests in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. By the end of September the U.S. Forest Service announced the fire had been "significantly moderated and rehabilitation is beginning." Still, high winds and extreme drought continue to hamper the efforts of those working to extinguish the flames, and many homes continue to be threatened.
The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is a reservoir in Yosemite National Park in California. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, residents needed a source of clean water. While the project was strongly opposed by environmentalists, in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act, which allowed the dam to be built in 1923 along the Tuolumne River. The reservoir holds over 117 billion gallons of water and serves as a water supply for more than 30 cities in the area.
The Al Farafra Oasis has resulted in a greening of the desert in western Egypt. Unlike many newly developed agricultural efforts, these fields are not based on deep-well irrigation, but on surface water associated with the oasis.
These Landsat images acquired on January 30, 1987, and October 25, 2012, show the increased agricultural activity in the area around the town of Qasr al Farafra. Improved infrastructure, such as paved roads, has increased accessibility to Qasr al Farafra. This ease of access has brought in agricultural laborers and tourists alike.
Lake Ayakkum is located near the northern boundary of the Tibetan Plateau in central China.
Many closed basin saline lakes in Central Asia have been shrinking because of the construction of dams and aqueducts, as well as human expansion into previously uninhabitable desert areas. Lake Ayakkum, however, has been growing, as shown in these Landsat images acquired in 1992, 2003, and 2012. Increasing flows from small glacier- and snowmelt-fed streams help feed the lake. The development of a delta can be seen in the southwest portion of the lake.
Plymouth is situated along Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. Plymouth holds a place of great prominence in American history, folklore, and culture, and is known as “America’s Hometown.” The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. An early celebration has been called the first Thanksgiving.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park located in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Originally a National Monument, the area was given the distinction of National Park in September 2004. It is the newest of the United States National Parks.
Mar Chiquita is the largest of the naturally occurring saline lakes in Argentina. The feeder systems for the lake include the Dulce River from the north, and the Primero/Suquia and Segundo/Xanaes Rivers from the south.
The Dulce River, as the principle feeder, has a heavy saline content, and increased drawing of the river upstream for irrigation has affected the levels of the lake. Additionally, long drought periods have diminished recharge capabilities.
Landsat satellite data are frequently used by regional and state officials to monitor and measure urban growth. Data acquired over the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1988 and 2011 illustrate the expansion of the population centers in a major economic region of the Upper Midwest.