Image of the Week - Southern California Wildfires Update

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Detailed Description

After a month, the wildfires of Southern California are nearly contained. Landsat 8 imagery shows the dramatic burn scars 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: 00:00:57

Location Taken: CA, US


Santa Ana winds rapidly spread
wildfires through shrubland,

tall grasses, and brush in southern
California in December 2017.

In the Landsat 8 image from
December 9th, smoke is carried

west by strong winds, which
also spread fire through the

dry terrain, mountain passes,
and canyons. The diagonal lines

are an airplane contrail and its
shadow cast on the ground.

Landsat 8’s December 25th
image reveals the burn scar

and shows how close the
fire burned near Santa Barbara.

As of January 2, the Thomas
Fire has burned over

entirely contained, but not before

becoming the largest fire in
California’s modern history.

Landsat’s shortwave and near
infrared bands combine to

clearly show the burned
and unburned vegetation.