The crisis generated by the intense heat waves and numerous fires that ravage Western Europe, especially in countries such as Spain, France and Portugal, has broken historical highs and has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Its impact, however, is not only felt on Earth, it is also seen from space. Through the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite, the International Space Station (ESA) has been able to obtain images of the temperature of the Earth’s surface in southern France, Spain and northern Africa on the morning of July 17, and the perspective It’s alarming.
The Earth’s surface temperature represents how hot the ground would feel to the touch, and is different from the air temperature, included in daily weather forecasts, which represents how hot the air is above the ground, as clarified from the THAT. “As the image clearly shows, in some places the earth’s surface reached a whopping 55 degrees Celsius. Taking into account that Copernicus Sentinel-3 acquired this data in the morning, the temperature would have increased during the afternoon,” they say.
Monitoring the temperature of the Earth’s surface is scientifically important and interesting because the heat rising from the Earth’s surface influences weather and climate patterns. Furthermore, these measurements are particularly important for farmers, who thus assess how much water their crops need, and for urban planners, in order to improve heat mitigation strategies, for example.
The ESA has also shared the animation of two satellite images of the before and after of some areas affected by the fires, such as one in which two snapshots of the southern region of Gironde, in France, are compared. The first was taken on July 12, before the fires broke out. The second, on July 17, when the fires were active, in which the burned surface can be clearly seen.
The Copernicus Emergency Management Service has been activated to respond to many of the fires ravaging Europe at the moment. The service leverages observations from multiple satellites to provide on-demand maps to assist civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community in the face of major emergencies.
Temperatures, both air and land surface, have risen so much in the last six weeks that numerous historical records have been broken, and heat and drought warnings are still in force in almost half of the European Union bloc. This brings an even longer risk to water supplies and agricultural food production.
As the effects of climate change increase, there are fears that these types of extreme weather events will also intensify. Satellites orbiting the planet play an important role in delivering data to understand and monitor how our world is changing, data that is key to mitigation strategies and policymaking.
Short-term forecast does not improve
Extreme heat and drought are exposing our country to a summer of serious fires. Nearly 200,000 hectares have already been burned and, as stated by José Antonio Maldonado, director of meteorology at Meteored, “there is no optimism for the coming dates.”
In the short term, no rain is expected, and temperatures will be high enough to become a risk factor. According to the expert, this Friday there will be records of up to 43ºC and on Saturday they will be around 45ºC in the Guadalquivir valley. Between Sunday and Monday, in cities like Seville or Córdoba they could reach 46 ºC.
With these factors, this weekend the risk of fire will once again be extreme in 90% of the country.