GFMC: Forest Fires in the Russian Federation

Forest Fires  in the Russian Federation  

18 August 2010

Latest MODIS scenes: 18 August

   MODIS Terra, Moscow region, 18 August 2010. 500m resolution.
    These MODIS Terra satellite scenes of 18 August 2010 (500m resolution) show the incoming clouds and rains in Moscow region and decreased smoke emissions from the wildfires. Remaining fires most likely are peat fires that were not yet extinguished by rain. The lower image shows that smoke is still drifting to Southern Ukraine (towards the Sea of Azow). Source: NASA. 


GFMC analysis: According to the latest satellite-derived analysis provided by the Sukachev Institute for Forest and Emercom (using the NOAA AVHRR satellite data) and the Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (using the MODIS satellite data) the total area burned by 18 August 2010 in the Russian Federation is:


NOAA AVHRR: 5.9 million ha

MODIS: 5.8 million ha


Note: The area burned includes all vegetation types (forest and non-forested land on the whole territory of the Russian Federation, including territories in which fires are monitored only but not controlled). This explains the discrepancy of fire statistics published by various government sources, which exclusively refer to forests under fire protection (seeFAO Regional Fire Report Central Asia Region).


Fire danger map for 17 August:

Source: Sukachev Institute for Forest, Krasnoyarsk


Avialesookhrana from the National Forest Fire Centre of Russia provides up-to-date NOAA images for the whole of the Russian Federation and neighbour territories. The Space Monitoring Information Support Laboratory provides extensive links to sites with satellite imagery for the Russian Federation, meteorological information as well as fire related images are accessible.

The NOAA AVHRR satellite image composite shows fire activities in the Russian Federation.

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Latest (17 August 2010 09:00 GMT) NOAA 12&14 AVHRR composite
The red squares indicate regions of active fires (MODIS Detection). For details the GFMC readers are encouraged to use the hyperlinks provided by Avialesookhrana, the Aerial Forest Fire Protection Service of the Federal Forest service of Russia. 
(Source: Avialesookhrana cloudiness maps)


Eurasian Experimental Fire Weather Information System
The system has been developed by forest fire researchers from Canada, Russia and Germany is displayed on this website starting 18 July 2001. Complete information and a set of daily fire weather and fire behaviour potential maps covering Eurasia (the Baltic Region, Eastern Europe, countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Mongolia) can be accessed at:

Example of the Eurasian Experimental Fire Weather Information System:
Latest map of the Experimental Fire Weather Index (FWI) for Russia and neighbouring countries


Daily Fire Occurrence and Fire Danger Maps of the Fire Laboratory of the Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk
Selected fire occurrence maps, satellite images and a forest fire danger map are prepared daily by the Russian GFMC correspondent Dr. Anatoly Sukhinin, Fire Laboratory of the Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk, in collaboration with the Emergency Situation Monitoring and Forecasting Agency, Krasnoyarsk branch. The maps are produced on the base of satellite data (classification by the NOAA AVHRR). They show the fire locations (by latitude and longitude) and the area affected by fire (red signature, size in ha). The red arrow at each fire location points to the nearest populated place. The terms Oblast or Kray used in the maps are designations of administrative regions. A map showing the boundaries of administrative regions and a legend is included below.


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Map legend

Administrative boundaries


Latest maps maps showing fire activities of  17 August 2010 (selection):

Overview map showing large fire locations detected over the last 10 days:

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News from the media:


U.S. – Russia Cooperating On Forests

U.S. government agencies are working to provide relief supplies for those affected by Russia’s forest fires.


A newly married couple celebrate their wedding despite the deep layer of smog from wildfires covering the ancient Russian city of Ryazan, some 180 km (111 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Working with the Government of Russia to outline a comprehensive U.S. response to the severe, forest fires in the Russian Federation, several U.S. government agencies are working to provide relief supplies.

This includes equipment to bolster Russia’s fire suppression efforts, such as water tanks, pumps, hand tools, fire-protective clothing, and medical kits. As well, a monetary donation to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will help provide relief items, such as blankets, bedding, and food parcels, for some of the people who lost their homes in the fire.

In addition, the State of California, which frequently suffers from forest fires, is donating fire-protection clothing, which was identified as a critical need by Russian firefighting authorities. This brings total U.S. assistance to approximately $4.5 million.

Since late June, Russia has baked in unusually high temperatures, often reaching 40 degrees (Celsius). The heat wave is unprecedented in 130 years of Russian record keeping, and has sparked thousands of peat and forest fires, most of them in western Russia. The resulting smoke has settled like a blanket of poisonous smog over Moscow. At the height of the crisis, 700 Muscovites were dying daily. That’s double the city’s usual death rate.

Because U.S. and Russian forests share similar plant and animal species and face similar threats, 2 two countries have been working together to protect the world’s largest forests for more than 50 years. Under the auspices of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Craig Fugate met his counterpart in the Russian Emergencies Ministry this July as part of a 14 year effort to strengthen our joint capacity to respond to such natural disasters.

The U.S. departments of Agriculture and Interior, also, have a long history of exchanging information and technical expertise with Russian forestry and firefighting agencies in such areas as firefighter training and wildfire behavior. This disaster highlights the need for continued and expanded cooperation in both of these areas.

During a telephone call to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, President Barack Obama expressed his deepest condolences for the tragic losses that Russia has suffered in the recent wildfires, and extended an offer of help. “We are taking action to support the heroic efforts of Russian firefighters and emergency responders as they seek to bring these fires under control,” said President Obama. “The United States stands with the people of Russia as they fight to contain the destructive spread of wildfires. Source: AP



Putin confirms aid to all wildfire victims

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised that all citizens whose households have been destroyed by any type of wildland fire, and not just forest blaze, will receive government aid.

Amendments will be introduced into the wildfire victims’ compensation program, he announced Wednesday.All those who lost their homes due to peat bog or grass fires will get financial support, the premier said.

Meeting with Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin, Putin thanked major companies and businessmen who offered help in building houses for fire victims.He warned that help must be handled with utmost efficiency. Source:

More Than Six Million Face Masks Sold Per Day Due to Russian Forest Fires

A continuing forest fire have made face masks become necessities of life to Russian people, meanwhile the fire also triggers selling tide of face masks.

Recently, face mask selling in Yiwu Small Commodity Market becomes hot in the original off-season due to Russian forest fires. According to management statistics of the market, more than six million face masks are sold out per day in these days, most of them are sold to Moscow.

In mid-July, sustained high temperatures caused several forest spots on fire in Voronezh State, Russia, the burned area reached 190,000 hectares. Constant smoke from fires result in environmental pollution in various districts of Russia, air quality drops drastically.

Especially Moscow and Moscow region have been shrouded in thick smoke in recent two weeks. People have to wear face masks while traveling; therefore, face masks have become a hot necessity. Many Russian businessmen rush to order face masks in Yiwu, Zhejiang.

Market statistics also show that more than 6 million face marks are sold out per day in recent time, surpassing the selling mark of 5 million face masks per day last year when H1N1 ravaged. But Management level of the market say that such sales boom will soon disappear, once the fires are extinguished, face mask sales will fall rapidly. Source:


NASA Video Shows Global Reach of Pollution from Fires

A series of large wildfires burning across western and central Russia, eastern Siberia and western Canada has created a noxious soup of air pollution that is affecting life far beyond national borders. Among the pollutants created by wildfires is carbon monoxide, a gas that can pose a variety of health risks at ground level. Carbon monoxide is also an ingredient in the production of ground-level ozone, which causes numerous respiratory problems. As the carbon monoxide from these wildfires is lofted into the atmosphere, it becomes caught in the lower bounds of the mid-latitude jet stream, which swiftly transports it around the globe.

Two movies were created using continuously updated data from the “Eyes on the Earth 3-D” feature on NASA’s global climate change website They show three-day running averages of daily measurements of carbon monoxide present at an altitude of 5.5 kilometers (18,000) feet, along with its global transport. The data are from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua spacecraft. AIRS is most sensitive to carbon monoxide at this altitude, which is a region conducive to long-range transport of the smoke. The abundance of carbon monoxide is shown in parts per billion, with the highest concentrations shown in yellows and reds.
The first movie, centered over Moscow, highlights the series of wildfires that continue to burn across Russia. It covers the period between July 18 and Aug. 10, 2010.
The second movie is centered over the North Pole and covers the period from July 16 to Aug. 10, 2010. From this vantage point, the long-range transport of pollutants is more easily visible.
AIRS is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
More information about AIRS can be found at

Russian Wildfires Subside Considerably
8/17/2010 8:16 AM ET
The devastating fire that has been raging across Central Russia for a month has been controlled significantly, reports quoting Emergency Situations Ministry said on Tuesday.

Relentless and large-scale fire-fighting efforts combined with unexpected rainstorms helped reduce the wildfire area by more than half from 45,000 to 22,000 hectares within a day.

All wildfires have been extinguished in Voronezh, one of the three regions where President Dmitry Medvedev lifted a state of emergency last week. He declared the state of emergency on August 2 in seven regions worst-affected by wildfires triggered by an unprecedented heatwave.

Fire was put out in large areas in Moscow, Nizhni Novgorod, Kirov, Ryazan, Vladimir, Sverdlov, Perm, Mordovia, and Mariy-El.

Fire-hit area in the Russian capital has decreased from 46 to 33 hectares, thanks to heavy downpours that brought temperatures down to 32 degrees Celsius from 40 degrees and above recorded since August 6.

Around 166,000 fire-fighters are currently involved in battling the inferno that so far killed 53 people and rendered more than 3,500 homeless, causing damages of about $15 billion Source:

Heat Probably Killed Thousands In Moscow

Date: 18-Aug-10

Heat Probably Killed Thousands In Moscow Photo: REUTERS/Alex Aminev
People covering their faces with cloth to protect themselves from the smell of heavy smog, caused by peat fires in nearby forests, walk in Moscow, August 9, 2010.
Photo: REUTERS/Alex Aminev

Several thousand Muscovites are thought to have died in July alone from this year’s unprecedented heatwave and August could add more fatalities, a Russian scientist said on Tuesday.

Moscow, a metropolis of over 10 million people, has suffered intense heat since late June, with day temperatures sometimes nearing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The crisis shriveled a third of Russia’s grain crop, shaved billions off this year’s economic growth and killed at least 54 people in wildfires. The heat subsided on Tuesday.

Citing a report by the Moscow Registry Office, Boris Revich, a senior demography and ecology researcher at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, said 5,840 more Muscovites had died in July than in the same month last year.

Revich said he believed the overwhelming majority of these additional deaths had been caused by the fierce heatwave.

“This situation was absolutely easy to forecast,” he told a news conference. “The only thing I blame myself for … is that my estimate (of deaths) was too low at the start of the heat.”

“But we have never had experience estimating such monstrous heat, merely because we had never had such heat before.”

The State Statistics Committee (Goskomstat) is due to publish its data on the deaths around August 20, Revich said. Death rate figures for August will be available in September.

Breaking official silence over the effects of the heat and smoke from forest fires which have blanketed Moscow since late July, the head of Moscow’s health department, Andrei Seltsovsky, said on August 9 that deaths had almost doubled to 700 a day, with heat being the main killer.

Russia’s Health Minister Tatyana Golikova, who earlier expressed “bewilderment” at Seltsovsky’s figures, said on Tuesday she had asked regional health officials to “analyze in detail” the situation surrounding mortality rates.

“We will (then) be ready to make this information public and deal with all the consequences,” Golikova told reporters.


Revich called the data provided by the Moscow Registry Office “absolutely reliable,” adding he believed most of those who had died from heat were elderly people suffering from cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases.

He said that globally, Russia’s heat crisis was not a unique phenomenon; in 2003 an estimated 45,000-50,000 people had died in a severe heatwave in the European Union.

“But what makes the situation in Moscow and other big cities of central Russia different, is this abnormal heat being coupled with a high level of air pollution as a result of forest fires,” Revich said. “Nature set up such a grim experiment on us.”

A total of 27,724 fires, including 1,133 at burning peat bogs, have been detected in Russia since July, Emergencies Ministry department chief Yuri Brazhnikov told reporters.

He said the fires had affected a total of 134 villages and towns and destroyed some 2,000 homes. Around 1,100 people have been moved to temporary shelters.

The weather is set to get colder by the weekend and Moscow’s air will get cleaner, but it remains unclear how fast the authorities will take steps to be prepared to fight a similar heatwave in the future.

Moscow ambulances, maternity houses and hospitals are not air-conditioned, as well as so-called social centers opened to provide proper shelter from heat to the sick and elderly. Masks and oxygen are in short supply in pharmacies.

“European countries have accumulated vast experience how to act during heat,” Revich said. “Regrettably, we are now just on our way to having such a national plan.” Source: Planetark


For more details on fire in the Russian Federation:


Bibliography on fire in ecosystems of boreal Eurasia:
One of the results of the first international fire science conference in the Russian Federation (1993) was the publication of a monograph on fire in boreal Eurasia, including some selected contributions on boreal North America. The literature cited in the monograph contains numerous publications which in many cases are not easily accessible. To facilitate literature search the bibliographical sources are provided by topic (chapter).
Goldammer, J.G. and V.V.Furyaev. 1996. Fire in Ecosystems of Boreal Eurasia. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 390 p.


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