Forest Fires

Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas

Mains level : Forest fires and their global impact

Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas

  • The Sentinel-3 World Fires Atlas Prototype product has been developed by European Space Agency.
  • It uses a method that enables it to identify all active fires at night.
  • The sensors on satellites measure thermal infrared radiation to take the temperature of Earth’s land surfaces. This information is used to detect and monitor the heat emitted by the fires.
  • The Atlas uses the satellite data to plot the number of fires occurring monthly.

Why it’s significant?

  • Quantifying and monitoring fires is important for the study of climate.
  • Forest fires have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.

Forest fires on rise

  • Compared to August 2018, there were almost five times as many wildfires across the world in August 2019 the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced citing data from its Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas.
  • August and September 2019 were also the months during which fires in the Amazon rainforest were at the centre of worldwide attention.
  • A detailed analysis of the August 2019 fires, however, shows that it was Asia that accounted for nearly half of these fires.


  • The ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission recorded 79,000 fires in August this year, compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period last year.
  • These figures were achieved by using data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas Prototype, which also provided a breakdown of these fires per continent.
  • The data revealed that 49% of the fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania.
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