India records over thousand forest fires in one week
With temperatures soaring above normal, India witnessed a whopping 1,156 forest fires during last week, pulling down the air quality index significantly.
NEW DELHI: With temperatures soaring above normal, India witnessed a whopping 1,156 forest fires last week, pulling down the air quality index significantly. As many as 12 Indian states had significant forest fire incidents so far (see map).
According to NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, the spatial resolution of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite satellite shows forest fire incidents across India, with high concentration in parts of South India, Odisha and the Northeast. Chances of fires originating from burning farm residue are remote since the rabi harvesting season is yet to start.
“If you superimpose NASA’s images with that of the air quality index, you will can easily correlate the forest fires with the poor air quality,” says Chandra Bhushan, a Delhi-based environmentalist. According to Swiss firm IQAir, air quality in India at 9 pm on Tuesday fell into the severe to unhealthy category in cities like Delhi, Gandhinagar, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hosur and Mullanpur (see table).
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High temperatures and extreme dryness create conditions for a natural fire. During the past week (13-20 Feb), maximum temperatures in the 35-390C range prevailed over Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Rajasthan and Goa and coastal Karnataka, which is 4-90C above normal. Temperatures are climbing by 5-90C above normal even in the North.