Views of the News
August 10, 2012 - Wildfires in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has joined several other states in being struck by wildfires during the widespread drought affecting nearly two-thirds of the conterminous United States this summer. In the August 4 image above, the brown tones represent vegetation destroyed by a fire that developed in late July in the Creek County area of northeastern Oklahoma. The fire burned over 91 square miles, causing a number of residents in Mannford and Kellyville to be evacuated. During the week of August 1, over 18 fires were burning in Oklahoma.
July 11, 2012 - Update on Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado
The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history started on June 23, in the pine forests just northwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The fire spread quickly burning over 5,000 acres by June 26 and more than 18,000 acres the next day. Nearly 350 homes were destroyed when the fire burned into northwest Colorado Springs. Hot, dry weather and shifting winds made battling the fire extremely challenging.
Local attractions such as the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak Highway, and the cog railroad were closed when mandatory evacuation orders were in place.
The Waldo Canyon Fire was 95% contained when this simulated natural color image was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on July 4, 2012. The black burn scar covers a 29 square-mile area.
ASTER orbits Earth on the Terra spacecraft at an elevation of 438 miles. Terra and ASTER are key components of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth Observing System. ASTER is successfully completing a global mapping mission, with over two million 1,390 square mile multispectral scenes archived since launch in 1999. Data are available from the NASA Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
July 2, 2012 - Missouri River - one year after flooding
In the spring and summer of 2011, the Missouri River experienced extreme flooding. The Landsat images above show Omaha, Nebraska, during the flooding on June 6, 2011, and one year later on June 8, 2012. In these images, the Missouri River is blue and meanders north to south through Omaha. Warm dry weather this year has allowed the river to return to its banks; however, clean-up continues on the highways and areas along the entire river.
June 28, 2012 - Waldo Canyon Fire
On June 23, a wildfire started in the pine forests just northwest of Colorado Springs, CO, and spread quickly. By June 26, it had burned over 5,000 acres. The next day, more than 18,000 acres had been burned. Hot, dry weather and shifting winds have made battling the fire extremely challenging. Local attractions such as the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak Highway, and the cog railroad are closed as mandatory evacuation orders are in place.
June 20, 2012 - Wildfire near Fort Collins, Colorado
The High Park wildfire continues to burn just west of Fort Collins, CO. The burned area, shown in dark red in the June 18 image, shows the nearly 60,000 acres that have burned so far. The fire, which started on June 9 by a lightning strike, destroyed 189 homes as of June 19. Evacuation orders remain in place in many areas. In the June 18 image, clouds hover just north of the burned area, with smoke from the fire visible as blue.
June 7, 2012 - New Mexico's Whitewater-Baldy fire
After burning for two weeks, two lightning sparked fires merged in mid-May to form the Whitewater Baldy Complex Wildfire in the Gila Wilderness of western New Mexico. The largest wildfire in New Mexico history, the fire had consumed over 260,000 acres by June 6.
The Landsat 7 imagery above shows the immensity of the fire in the steep, inaccessible terrain.
May 30, 2012 - Gladiator Fire, Arizona
The Gladiator Fire in the Bradshaw Mountains of the Prescott National Forest in Arizona has burned more than 16,000 acres since it began on May 13. Started when a home caught fire on Gladiator Road near Crown King, AZ, the wildfire quickly advanced up the mountain. Referred to as the little town that would not burn, this is the second wildfire Crown King has survived; the first was the Lane 2 Fire in June/July of 2008. The Landsat 7 images above show the area consumed by the Gladiator Fire.
May 15, 2012 - Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper Ceases Routine Acquisitions
After a silent winter, the USGS turned on the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) in late April to determine the state of the electronics problem that suspended operations in November, 2011. Unfortunately, several alternate methods of acquisitions did not alleviate the problem, which severely limits any further acquisitions with the TM. Currently, the USGS plans to acquire only a handful of images over the next few weeks as we examine our options. Landsat 5 has a long and storied career, and the data collected are invaluable to the study of our Earth.
The Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) instrument on Landsat 5 has been reactivated and MSS data are being collected over the United States. The MSS data are being archived but processing and distribution of the data will not be possible until the USGS develops the necessary product generation capabilities.
The image above, acquired on April 25, 2012, shows the Missouri River as it flows between Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, and continues past Mobridge, South Dakota.
May 7, 2012 - And the fastest-growing American city is...
Austin, Texas, according to Forbes.com. Austin was selected by Forbes as America's Fastest-Growing City for the second year in a row based on projections of economic and population growth, median income, unemployment rates, and employment growth. Since 1990 Austin's population has grown by 1 million, and is expected to grow 2.8 percent a year through 2016, almost triple the national rate. Situated on the Colorado River, Austin's most evident expansion is in the northern portion where new highways snake around the city to connect the growing suburbs, as seen in the Landsat 5 images above.
April 22, 2012 - Celebrating Earth Day - Satellites show the planet's ability to recover
On June 15, 1991, after months of seismic activity, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded with a violent force. The second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, Pinatubo spewed a tremendous amount of ash, which covered the surrounding forest. Millions of tons of sulfur dioxide were also injected into the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to drop for the next three years. The above Landsat 5 images show the Earth's resiliency as it heals itself after a major disaster. Satellite images like these are critical tools in helping scientists monitor vegetation recovery after such a dramatic disturbance. You can see the extent of the ashfall (gray) in the July 2, 1991 image taken a couple of weeks after the eruption. By contrast, the 2010 image reveals the return of vegetation (red) and the continuing impact of erosion (gray streaks flowing away from the summit).