One Hot Year: Visualizing US Fires in 2012

By just about any standard, 2012 was a massive year for U.S. wildfires. According to data from both the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and NASA, over 9.1 million acres burned this year… and that was only tracking until November 30th. That figure places 2012 as the 3rd most wildfire filled year since 1960, and with the total number of fires being 55,505 – a relatively low number – the year holds the current record for the largest average fire size.


This visualization, which depicts fires that burned between January 1 and October 31, 2012, displays fire intensity in a range from deep red, to orange and yellow (indicating fires which burned more intensely and covered a larger area). NASA’s site Earth Observatory notes that many of the red fires were prescribed fires, lit for either agricultural or ecosystem management purposes (a practice which looks extremely popular in Mexico). Yellow and orange fires were usually of the wildfire variety, often resulting from lightning strikes and burning uncontrolled in remote, hard to reach areas.

Click here or the image below for a larger view of this detailed map:

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