Satellite images before and after wildfires show the devastating contrast of the elements. There is no doubt that last year’s “Black Summer” in Australia was absolutely devastating. Fires across the country have destroyed 186,000 square kilometers of forest, killing 34 people and affecting billions of animals. But the final results of the fire are especially frightening.
Australian aerial analysis company Geospatial Intelligence has been working with the government of New South Wales (NSW) to get before and after images of the continent, and the images are horrendous.
Large areas that were once green and prosperous regions around Australia’s hottest zones now look barren. The pictures were taken during 2019, before the wildfire season, and the second series was taken just after the wildfires in early 2020.
Such photographs provide governments with important information about the landscape, providing data on fire scars, vegetation levels, and damage to property and infrastructure. Scientists say that forest fires can be beneficial, but when a disaster occurs on such a scale, this is not the case.
The difference in images compared to something like Google Maps is the resolution. The Sentinel satellites often used by Google have a resolution of about 30–250 meters per pixel, while some of the Geospatial satellites can have a resolution of 1.5 meters per pixel. This allows you to analyze images with very fine detail and changes in vegetation.
Although Australia’s bushfire season this year has been less devastating than last year’s disaster, such emergencies will occur more and more in our lives as the planet continues to warm.
Clearly, Australia isn’t the only place seeing increasingly devastating fires: California’s fires are currently out of control, while the Arctic, Amazon, Siberia, and Central Asia are also facing serious fires of their own.