Fires and Smoke in Northwest Alaska
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Fires and Smoke in Northwest Alaska

July 22, 2012
By mid-2012, much of Alaska had experienced wildfire season which was lighter than usual. However, in early June, the northern interior of Alaska and the North Slope continued to be warm, dry and ripe for ignition. On June 8, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over northwest Alaska, capturing several fires and copious smoke across the region.

According to the National Park Service, lightning strikes caused ignition of eight wildfires on July 3 in Noatak National Preserve and one in Kobuk Valley National Park. As of July 19, three wildfires continue to burn in northwestern Alaska, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center. These are the Uyon Lakes, Uygoon Creek, and Feniak fires.

In July, caribou begin to assemble in large post-calving congregations in northwestern Alaska. The National Parks Service estimated that in July more than 300,000 caribou from the Western Arctic Herd came together near Cape Krusenstern National Monument and Noatak National Preserve, near the site of these wildfires. However, there were no reports of the fires affecting the congregating animals.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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