With Europe in the grip of a heatwave and little rain, the scorched ground and dry vegetation is succumbing to fire. Fires have now broken out as far as the Arctic Circle, in Sweden. This animation shows images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 missions.
The wider view, which stretches from the west coast of Norway to central Sweden, was captured by Sentinel-3 on 17 July 2018. Here, smoke can be seen billowing from several fires. The closer view was captured on the same day by Sentinel-2. Here, flames and smoke from two of the fires can be seen clearly, along with smoke from other fires in the vicinity.
The fires have led to the authorities evacuating some villages and appealing for help from other countries, and concerns that the current record temperatures and drought are linked to climate change.
There are said to be around 50 fires now burning in the country. Through July there have been three times as many fires as there were last year.
Jonas Olsson from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute is reported to have said, “It’s very, very dry in most of Sweden. The flows in the rivers and lakes are exceptionally low, except in the very northern part of the country. We have water shortages.
“Rainfall has only been around a seventh of the normal amount, the lowest since record-keeping began in the late 19th century.”
While the focus is clearly on trying to extinguish these fires, the Copernicus Sentinel missions offer an eye in the sky to identify where fires have broken out. This is especially valuable in areas that are sparsely populated.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency activated the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Serving to map the major fires.
Sentinel-2 carries a high-resolution multispectral imager and Sentinel-3 carries a suite of instruments including an ocean and land imaging instrument. The missions offer complementary views of Earth to help monitor environmental change and events such as these fires.