Astonishing images show Greece wildfires from space

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A satellite image showing a wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes.
Wildfires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes. The image has been processed by combining natural color bands with shortwave-infrared information to enhance the fire front. It shows the extent of the burned area (visible in shades of brown) in the central part of the island, with a preliminary estimate of 11,000 hectares lost at the time of capture. ESA

Residents and thousands of vacationers have spent recent days fleeing wildfires in parts of Greece, with dramatic news images showing smoke-filled skies glowing orange as the fires rage.

The scale of the disaster has been highlighted by remarkable imagery captured by several observation satellites orbiting Earth.

Shared by EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), the images and footage clearly show the extent of the smoke and fire impacting the Greek islands of Evia and Rhodes.

The image below, for example, shows a blaze in the southern part of Evia, which is similar in size to Rhode Island. It was captured on July 24 by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite. To highlight the fire, the image has combined natural color bands with the satellite’s shortwave-infrared data.

#Wildfires are blazing through various parts of Greece, including the islands of Corfu, Rhodes and Evia 🔥

Yesterday, a fire spread in Evia and locals and tourists have been evacuated

This #Sentinel2🇪🇺🛰️ image from 24 July shows fire sweeping across the south of the island pic.twitter.com/4sfJ3J6P7w

— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) July 25, 2023

EUMETSAT also posted footage (below) showing wildfires on Rhodes, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of the Greek capital, Athens, captured by ESA’s Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 weather satellite.

“The catastrophic fires in Rhodes are clearly visible from space here, as MTG-I1 observed their resulting large smoke plumes on Saturday,” it said in a message posted with the footage.

The catastrophic fires in #Rhodes are clearly visible from space here, as #MTGI1 observed their resulting large smoke plumes on Saturday.
Please note: this is preliminary commissioning data. pic.twitter.com/fY9aJAiWUq

— EUMETSAT (@eumetsat) July 24, 2023

In a thread accompanying the post, EUMETSAT explains how it adjusted the footage to make it look more natural.

In another incredible image, smoke can be seen billowing from Rhodes, blown south by winds that have been spreading the catastrophic fires and hampering efforts to contain them. EUMETSAT notes that this is a “false color” image that’s designed to highlight the spread of the smoke.

In some good news for those involved, Greece’s meteorological service has forecast that temperatures will begin falling in the region from Thursday.

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