With searing temperatures and a string of record breaking across Western Europe, the current heatwave is all too apparent. Extreme heat warnings have been issued in several countries, including France, Spain and Portugal, and deadly wildfires have forced thousands to flee their homes. The satellite images here are an example of how the crisis is viewed by satellites orbiting the Earth.
The image, which uses data from the radiometer instrument of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission, shows the temperature of the earth’s surface in southern France, Spain and North Africa on the morning of July 17 .
Note the difference between air temperature and ground surface temperature. Air temperature, shown in our daily weather forecast, is a measure of how hot the air is above ground. Rather, the Earth’s surface temperature is a measure of how hot the actual surface would feel when touched.
As the image above clearly shows, in some places the surface of the earth has reached a whopping 55°C. Considering that Copernicus Sentinel-3 acquired this data in the morning, the temperature would have increased throughout the afternoon.
Scientists monitor the temperature of the Earth’s surface because the heat rising from the Earth’s surface influences weather and climate patterns. These metrics are also particularly important for farmers assessing how much water their crops need and for city planners looking to improve heat mitigation strategies, for example.
The land surface temperature image also highlights forest fires in the southern Gironde region of France.
These fires and burn scars are also featured in the two accompanying animations.
Copernicus Sentinel-2 embeds an innovative broadband high-resolution multi-spectral imager with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of our lands and vegetation. Its shortwave infrared channel was used to highlight the heat of the forest fire.
The animations use data from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and include images acquired on July 12 before the fires started and images acquired on July 17 when the fires were active. The difference is clear to see.
The Copernicus emergency management service has been activated to respond to many of the fires currently raging across Europe, including those affecting Gironde.
The service leverages observations from multiple satellites to provide on-demand mapping to assist civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community in the face of major emergencies.
Temperatures, whether air temperature or land surface temperature, have risen so much in the past six weeks that many records have been broken.
While heat warnings are still in effect, drought warnings are also in place across nearly half of the European Union bloc. This poses an even more prolonged risk to water supplies and agricultural food production.
As the effects of climate change increase, the fear is that these types of extreme weather conditions will also increase.
Satellites orbiting the planet play an important role in providing data to understand and monitor our changing world, data that is essential for mitigation strategies and policy-making.
The city’s extreme temperatures captured by an instrument on the ISS
Provided by the European Space Agency
Quote: Satellite images show heat and fire crises from space (2022, July 20) retrieved July 26, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-satellite-images-crises-space .html
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