Fires in Portugal


24 August 2005

Some visual impressions of the fires in Portugal:






Comments of the GFMC on the Fire Situation in Portugal:

Although Portugal suffers from the worst drought in decades that does not necessarily lead to severe fire conditions. The fire weather for August is not extreme and neither are vegetation health conditions nor NDVI (see below). Nevertheless, more than 140,000 hectares have burned this year up to now, well above the annual average since 1980. Almost all of these fires are set by humans, whether intentionally or by negligence, and do not reflect at all the current fire weather situation. Regarding the large number of the fires set by arsonists, any Fire Management Programme will reach physical and economic limits of effectiveness. Even more funding and help by the EU does not mean further efficiencies. Arson is an inherent problem in many Mediterranean countries and must be addressed in a different way than sending aircraft when it´s too late.




Current media information:



Latest satellite scenes showing fires and fire affected areas in Portugal:

Throughout August 2005, wildfires have been burning off and on across several regions of Portugal, which has been is suffering through a severe drought. As the fires billowed thick smoke into the air, carbon monoxide accumulated and was measured by the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite.


The color-coded map above shows levels of carbon monoxide that accumulated over the Iberian Peninsula from August 15-21. Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per billion by volume (ppbv) on a scale from 0 (blue) to 240 (red). A carbon monoxide concentration of 240 parts per billion by volume means that for every billion molecules in the column of air MOPITT observed, 240 were carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a good indicator of combustion-related air pollution, and observations like these from MOPITT give scientists a good idea how that type of pollution spreads regionally or even globally. 

(Source: Earth Observatory)


Drought-ravaged forests in Portugal continued to burn in the fourth week of August 2005. Wildfires were burning out of control in several locations, and the government had declared a state of emergency in the central part of the country. This image of the fires (outlined in red) was captured on 23 August 2005, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Smoke from dozens of fires detected by MODIS is spreading across the Atlantic Ocean, at image left.

23 August 2005
13:40 hrs UTC
(Image courtesy MODIS)
True colour: Bands 1-4-3
False Colour: Bands 7-2-1

The links provide a 250 m resolution for both scenes

The infrared-enhanced image makes burned areas (deep reddish brown) stand out from healthy vegetation (bright green) and water (dark blue). Clouds appear bright blue. 

(Source: Earth Observatory)

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI):

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite also enhanced the previous image from the 21 August 2005 by including the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) which is strongly correlated to surface temperatures and surface moisture status.

Click on scene for a 1km resolution


ECPC Fire Weather Forecast: 

The GFMC displays selected and daily updated  Experimental Climate Prediction Center (ECPC)  Fire Weather Forecasts for Europe. These examples allow a quicklook and provide daily and weekly total forecasts. For background information refer to the ECPC products description page.

FWI forecast for the next 60hrs

Precipitation amount forecast for the next 60 hrs

Surface temperatures forecast for the next 60hrs

Relative humidity forecast for the next 60hrs

(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)


Satellite-derived vegetation health map:

The general stress situation is higher this year as compared to 2004.
(Source: NOAA/NESDIS Current Vegetation Health Image Maps)


For more details on fires in Portugal:




Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien