Tuesday, September 15, 2020

How Big Are the U.S. Wildfires?

This year the wildfires burning across the western United States have consumed more than 7,000 square miles. This is an area equivalent to the size of New Jersey. In order to help people understand the huge scale of some of the current active wildfires burning in California and Oregon NBC news has created an interactive map comparison tool.

See how the wildfires across the Western U.S. compare to where you live allows you to overlay the perimeters of a number of active wildfires on your own town or city. The map therefore allows you to compare the size of the selected fire with a geographical area that you are more familiar with. Not only does the map show the perimeter of the selected fire on top of your selected town it also informs you how many times bigger the fire is than the size of your town.

As a European a tweet by Blaine Cook helped provide me with some context for the huge size of the near surface smoke caused by these wildfires. Blaine has used the outlines of a number of European countries to roughly show the area of the wildfire smoke covering the western United States yesterday.

I'm not certain which map comparison tool Blaine used to create his image. It looks to me like it might be The True Size Of ... - which allows you to drag polygon shapes of different countries and overlay them on top of a map to make direct comparisons of size between different countries.

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