Image of the Week - Southern California Wildfires, December 2017

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Detailed Description

The Thomas fire has burned more than 230,000 acres and continues to blaze across souther California. These images show some of the burn scar left behind.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (


Date Taken:

Length: 00:00:56

Location Taken: CA, US


Landsat 8 images show
southern California in

December 2017. Extremely
dry, strong winds rapidly

spread wildfires through the
area northwest of Los Angeles. 

The Thomas Fire burned over
two hundred thousand acres

between December

Fires are not typical this
time of year, however, 

very little rain fell during the
previous summer and fall.

Landsat’s 30-meter resolution
allows detailed mapping

of burn severity. Its shortwave
infrared and near-infrared bands

provide an accurate distinction
between burned and

unburned vegetation. 

The image from ASTER
complements Landsat’s imagery.

Here, vegetation is red and
the burned area as gray.