Comments of the GFMC on the Fire Situation in Portugal:
Air humidity levels and air temperatures returned to normal levels for this time of the year (see below) and helped to bring the strongest blazes under control. Nevertheless, still several new fires started, though in general much smaller due to the thick fog that rolled onto Portugal´s coast.
According to a new´s report by The Australian from today (25 August 2005, see below) the government vowed to take steps to lower the risk of future fires, notably by changing subsidy rules to encourage the clearing of brush on people’s land. Further reasons for increased fire risk can be seen in the abandonment of large swathes of forests in the interior as young people have moved to coastal cities, a focus on planting profitable but highly combustible tree species like fast-growing eucalyptus, and the fact that the country’s roughly 3.3 million hectares of forest are split up among over half a million property owners.
Although the article points out possible reasons for the large number of severe wildfires in Portugal, it does not address the most important issue: arson. Arson can be considered as the main problem in dealing with fires in Portugal and is deeply rooted in its society and its responsability to natural resources.
Latest satellite scenes showing fires and fire affected areas in Central Portugal:
Drought-ravaged forests in Portugal continued to burn in the fourth week of August 2005. This image of the fires (outlined in red) was captured on 24 August 2005, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satellite.
TERRA 24 August 2005 13:35 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.