Changing conditions in Kuwait

In February, 1991, hundreds of oil wells in Kuwait were set ablaze during the early stages of the Desert Storm conflict. The fires burned out of control and caused widespread pollution to the air and surrounding soils. Approximately six million barrels of oil were lost each day. The last fire was extinguished in November of that year.

Landsat satellite images from the Sabriyah Oil field in February and December of 1991 show the effects of the fires. Surrounding soils are normally light toned, but residue from the fires darkened the soils.

Twenty years later the environment has largely recovered, and the dark stains from 1991 have mainly disappeared. The smoke plumes that remain represent fires normally set to burn off gases from the wells.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011