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Due to climate change, natural disasters have proliferated in the last months. We saw deadly floods this summer in Germany and Belgium. And British Columbia (Canada) is currently battered by storms that have cut off some three million inhabitants of the Lower Mainland from the rest of the country. The Northern hemisphere summer brought the largest wildfire season in recorded history. Especially fires in California (USA) and Sakha Republic (Russia) made the news. According to NASA, the wildfire paradigm in Russia has changed over the last decades – wildfires got fewer in number but larger. We had a closer look at an area of close to 100 million hectares in Sakha Republic that suffered from the worst fires. We considered the area from 111 to 137 degrees East and 60 to 67 degrees North. For this study area we created a detailed map of all areas burned up to September 2021.

How we made this map

To create this map, we relied on machine learning and large scale satellite data processing techniques to map the burned areas in our study area. We used 4501 multispectral images from ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellites.

After many iterations, we managed to process the data for the whole study area over the course of three days on a normal desktop workstation. This leaves room to upscale our technology to larger areas. It turns out that more than 6.7 million hectares or about 7 % of our study area were burned. For comparison, Zhenya Naumova of Greenpeace Russia gave an estimate of the burned area over all of Russia at 17.5 million hectares when the fire season was still ongoing in mid-September.

Talk to us!

At EDEO, it is our passion to derive useful insights from geospatial data for our clients and the public. To make better decisions, you need to understand the available data. We help you with that. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are happy to provide the data shown on the map for free if you let us know your use case. Or do you need geospatial analysis of your topic of interest? Let’s talk. You have comments on our work? Then leave them in the comments section. To stay up-to-date with our mapping projects, follow us on Twitter. We are planning to share an improved version of this map in December.

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