Pyrocumulonimbus clouds above Funny River Fire seen from space

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds above Funny River Fire seen from space

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds, also known as pyroCb events, are thunderclouds formed when superheated air rises above an intense fire. They are the most extreme manifestation of a pyrocumulus cloud, accompanied by hail, lightning, and strong winds and can loft smoke high into the atmosphere, allowing it to travel long distances. They may sometimes even extinguish the fire that formed it.

While the first unambiguous pyroCb event of the 2014 Northern Hemisphere wildfire season occurred in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, Russia on May 18, 2014, the first detailed satellite image of the year comes from Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, U.S.

A wildfire that broke out on the Kenai Peninsula on the evening of May 19, 2014, quickly blew up into a massive wildfire now called the Funny River Fire. By the end of May 22nd it had burned more than 44 423 acres.

The Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired these images at 1:13 p.m. local time on May 20. The first image shows the scene in natural color, while the lower false-color image incorporates short wave infrared light (bands 6, 5, 3). Each view provides unique information about the fire.

Natural colour image acquired May 20, 2014. Image credit: NASA Landsat 8 - ALI / EO

False colour image acquired May 20, 2014. Image credit: NASA Landsat 8 - ALI / EO

First 2014 pyrocumulonimbus clouds

On May 18, 2014, Korean COMS-1 satellite showed an increasing amount of smoke output from numerous fires burning northwest of Lake Baikal. Toward the end of the day, a strong cold front moving eastward across the region appeared to be the catalyst for producing a pair of pyroCb events in the vicinity of Bratsk (wisc.edu)

They were the first unambiguous pyroCb event of the 2014 Northern Hemisphere wildfire season

Click here to set the sceene in motion. Image credit: CIMSS

Featured image credit: NASA Landsat 8 - ALI / EO


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