Maps Show Every Major Fire In America Since 2001

Fire

Photo: John Nelson/ IDV Solutions

John Nelson of IDV Solutions is an expert at turning raw data into visually-stunning risk maps.You may remember his maps of the the world’s earthquakes since 1898 or the biggest tornado risks

“Once a really interesting data set pops up, mostly it’s just me wanting to see what it looks like,” Nelson tells us.  

For his latest masterpiece, the designer culled information from an instrument on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites called Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers. Along with taking images of Earth, the sensors collect thermal information twice a day. It can even detect unusually high temperatures associated with burning fires.   

Click here to see the maps > 
Retaining information of fires greater than 100 megawatts, Nelson mapped the location and intensity of major fires for the last 11 years.

“Each dot represents a moment of pretty extreme heat, down to the one square kilometer level,” Nelson explains on his blog

The fires’ magnitude is compared to the typical summertime output of an American nuclear plant, which is around 1,000 megawats. The colours move from purple to pink to red to orange to yellow as the fires strengthen in intensity.  

A chart in the bottom right-hand corner shows the proportion of fires by year, which illustrates an overall upward trend. Over the last decade, 2011 had by far the largest number of major fires and even though 2012 is less than half way through it seems to be on track to outpace last year.  

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

11 years of data in one map

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