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Hot Spots': More Than a Decade of Major U.S. Fires on One Map
Major fires in the U.S. since 2001. (Image: John Nelson/IDV User Experience)

Hot Spots': More Than a Decade of Major U.S. Fires on One Map

"...each dot represents a moment of pretty extreme heat..."

From the same visual data aficionado that brought us the U.S. map with 56 years of tornado tracks illustrated in neon and 114 years of earthquake epicenters comes his latest installment: major fires.

Although the data doesn't span as long of a timeframe compared to the previous maps created by John Nelson on the blog IDV User Experience, the map shows the last 11 years of major fires within the country.

According to the blog, it's not just the image that you may find interesting but the technology that allowed him to pick up such data. Nelson describes it as a "sweet sweet machine orbiting the earth soaking up it's emitted photons at various wavelengths." It is able to sense thermal anomalies.

Here's more from Nelson on how the map was created and his analysis of it:

[...] each dot represents a moment of pretty extreme heat, down to the one square kilometer level (I only retained fires greater than 100KW and of those only fires that the system was more than 50% confident of).  They've been colored and scaled by "units" of the typical American nuclear power plant's summertime capacity to provide some sort of baseline of the fires' magnitude.

There are a couple temporal charts in there, too.  The seasonal curve I would expect, but the overall upwards trend was interesting (and 2012 is only half through).  Is it related to a lag-offset El Niño or La Niña effect?

It's almost like the universe balancing itself out, considering the general density of historical tornadoes.  Except poor Florida gets a heaping pile of both.  Can there be a fire tornado?  If so, look out, Tampa.  Also, what's cooking in the south Mississippi basin?

See the map at varying sizes here. Check out more from Nelson on the IDV User Experience blog here.

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