Scorched Earth: Wildfires Continue To Rage in Greece

Wildfires Rage in Greece

Satellite image of wildfires in Greece captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission reveals a 45-mile-long fire front. Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2023), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

A month after fires devastated the island of Rhodes in July 2023 (see image below), more fires have ripped through Greece this week as southern Europe swelters under a late summer heatwave. This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows the ongoing blaze near Alexandroupoli in the Evros region of northeast Greece – close to the Türkiye border.

Island Rhodes Wildfire

Wildfires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes in July 2023 forced the evacuation of thousands of people as flames spread from the island’s mountainous region to the coast. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission captured this image of the ongoing blaze on July 23, 2023. Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2023), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Weather Conditions and Satellite Imagery

Hot, dry, and windy conditions have contributed to the eruption of dozens of wildfires across Greece. The most intense of these fires is in its fourth day, threatening the northeastern port city of Alexandroupoli.

This satellite image is a blend between a natural color and a shortwave infrared composite to highlight the fire front, which was approximately 70 km (45 miles) long when this image was captured on August 23. The fire has produced a plume of smoke that stretched 1600 km (1000 miles) southwest towards Tunisia. Burned area can be seen in the image in dark brown.

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites, each carrying an innovative wide swath high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands for monitoring changes in Earth’s land and vegetation.

Response and Precautions

In response to the fires, the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service has been activated in North Attica, Rodopi, Euboea Island, the Sterea Ellada Region, and East Macedonia. The service uses satellite observations to help civil protection authorities and, in cases of disaster, the international humanitarian community, respond to emergencies.

Climate Change and Wildfires

Climate change and land-use change are projected to make wildfires more frequent and intense. In light of the devastating wildfires, ESA has reopened its World Fire Atlas which provides a detailed analysis of wildfires taking place across the globe.

1 Comment on "Scorched Earth: Wildfires Continue To Rage in Greece"

  1. Hottan Bothred | August 26, 2023 at 1:02 am | Reply

    Greek officials today announced 79 people were arrested on arson charges. That’s a lot of climate changers. Could climate change be making arsonists more frequent?

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