"The United Nations ignores the situation in Ukraine, where more people die every day than in the Gaza Strip [sic]."
There were two headline-grabbing events on Thursday, July 17: the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, presumably by separatists in eastern Ukraine, and the beginning of…
The slightly-terrifying maw has emerged in the peninsula of Yamal, whose name roughly translates to “the end of the world” (yes, reality is stranger than fiction). According to the Siberian Times, an oil company’s helicopter crew discovered the hole in this gas-rich region. It’s located less than 20 miles from Russia’s largest gas field, Bovanenkovo, and seems like an entrance to a massive cavern.
With dozens of forest fires burning in Russia’s Irkutsk region, authorities have declared a state of emergency.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on May 18, 2014. The red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. The image is centered at 56.76 degrees North and 105.47 degrees East.
Some of the blazes likely began on farms but then spread into forests due to high winds and warm temperatures. As seen on Worldview, MODIS began to detect small fires in Irkutsk on May 14. Many were along rivers near farmland. After burning at a moderate level for a few days, the size and intensity of the fires increased significantly on May 18.
The St. Petersburg Times reported that 77 fires had burned more than 39,000 hectares (150 square miles) in Irkutsk by May 19. Fire destroyed 22 homes in the village of Dalny and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people, according to the Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM).
In addition to producing thick plumes of smoke, the fires fueled numerous pyrocumulus clouds—tall, cauliflower-shaped clouds that billowed up above the smoke. Pyrocumulus are similar to cumulus clouds, but the heat that forces the air to rise—which leads to cooling and condensation of water vapor—comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground. In satellite images, pyrocumulus clouds appear as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke.
The Irkutsk fires triggered the first confirmed pyrocumulus clouds of the 2014 fire season in the northern hemisphere, according U.S. Naval Research Laboratory meteorologist Mike Fromm. Meteorologists monitor pyrocumulus because the clouds can pump smoke and pollutants high into the atmosphere, get dispersed by winds, and affect air quality over a broad area. On May 19, MODIS observed smoke from Irkutsk wildfires mixing with clouds and moving northeast. A preliminary analysis of data acquired by the Multi-Angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite suggested the smoke had reached between 11 and 12 kilometers and was moving about 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour.
- CIMSS PyroCb (2014, May 18) PyroCb in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Emercom of Russia (2014, May 19) Fire in village of Dalny, Nizhneilimsky District, Irkutsk Region put out. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Fromm et al (2010, September) The Untold Story of Pyrocumulonimbus. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91, 1193-1209.
- ITAR-TASS (2014, May 18) Emergency fire regime declared in Siberian region. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (2010, August 27) NRL Scientist Seeing Clearly the Effects of Pyrocumulonimbus.Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Ozone Mapping & Profiler Suite blog (2014, May 19) Pryocb Event Over Russia. Accessed March 19, 2014.
- St. Petersburg Times (2014, May 19) State of Emergency Declared in Irkutsk Region Due to Fires. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Tom Yulsman’s ImaGeo blog, via Discover (2014, May 5) Russian Wildfires Blaze on an Area Larger than Los Angeles.Accessed May 19, 2014.
NASA images courtesy of the LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response team. Caption by Adam Voiland, with information from Mike Fromm (Naval Research Laboratory) and David Nelson (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
Kamchatka Peninsula— The eastern side of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean west of Alaska. In this winter image, a volcanic terrain is hidden under snow-covered peaks and valley glaciers feed blue ice into coastal waters. Image courtesy of USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office.
A REAL LAND OF ICE AND FIRE
Five Volcanoes Erupting at Once
NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon,
using Landsat 8 data from the USGS Earth Explorer.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured activity at five of them during a single satellite pass on April 14, 2014
Remote. Cold. Rugged. Those three adjectives capture the essence of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
Another word—perhaps more applicable here than anywhere else on Earth—Fiery.
- Of the roughly 1,550 volcanoes that have erupted in the recent geologic past, 113 are found on Kamchatka.
- Forty Kamchatkan volcanoes are “active,” either erupting now or capable of erupting on short notice. .
From geographic north to south (and top to bottom on this page), the volcanoes are Shiveluch, Klyuchevskaya, Bezymianny, Kizimen, and Karymsky.
- The tallest of the group is Klyuchevskaya, a stratovolcano with a steep, symmetrical cone that reaches 4,750 meters (15,580 feet) above sea level.
- The most active is Karymsky, a 1,536-meter (5,039-foot) peak that has erupted regularly since 1996.
Abbreviated reprint of a NASA Earth Observatory post.
It doesn’t look good for Ukraine.
All eyes are on eastern Ukraine as separatists demand to secede from the country and join Russia. But even as Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoys a tide of favorable opinion, he may have some trouble brewing closer to home.
On Sunday, 10,000 people took to the streets of Moscow to protest the state media’s coverage in eastern Ukraine. Waving the Ukrainian flag, protesters at the anti-Kremlin “March for Truth” demanded greater transparency and objectivity in Russian news, as well as protection for independent journalists who speak out against the state.