NASA images smoke from gorse fires

As the Belfast Telegraph notes, smoke from the fires across the UK and Ireland are clearly visible in the stunning satellite images from NASA/GSFC’s MODIS Rapid Response System.  This is a cropped, smaller, version of an image taken at 12.50pm [BST] on 2 May at a resolution of 500 metres.  Red is used to indicate the site of a fire.  (Image credit: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response System)

And a close-up of the visible smoke plumes. 

Note to Belfast Telegraph – See “About Rapid Response Imagery”.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

  • JR

    In my oppinion the areas cleared by these fires should now be replanted with native trees. Birch, mountain ash and oak. These trees do not burn the way gorse and pines do and are much more environmentally benificial.

  • joeCanuck

    I remember from my youth that quite a few of my peers thought it was a bit of a lark to start gorse fires. They bushes are easy to ignite. Seems that the “tradition” continues. Alarmingly , however, one report said that an adult was spotted with a can of gasoline setting quite a few fires. Makes me shake my head.

  • ayeYerMa

    They estimate that 97% of the approx 1200 estimated fires over the last 2 weeks were started deliberately.

    Is it any coincidence that these fires are prevalent in Republican areas? (updated satellite images further that trend) An illustration of the ingrained Republican culture of disobedience?

    Coming from a predominantly Unionist area that is completely and utterly surrounded by the yellow of gorse, I can’t say I remember any “tradition” of burning gorse in my youth. Maybe I just wasn’t in with the “cool kids”?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Coming from a predominantly Unionist area that is completely and utterly surrounded by the yellow of gorse, I can’t say I remember any “tradition” of burning gorse in my youth.

    Setting fires, with the associated damage and expense on the fire brigade, is elevated to a cultural tradition in “predominantly unionist areas” in July. Let’s not play the sectarian card here.

    We need to be a lot tougher on this kind of anti-social behaviour. I’d bring in curfews.

  • sdelaneys

    There is a tradition of burning gorse, or whin, and it has nothing to do with disobedience or loyalty. It stems from a number of sources including ancient society and possibly pre christianity.. When I was a boy it was a tradition to burn when on hills at Easter and also as boys we used to burn when on almost any bit of rock. the farmers didn’t mind as the grass grew better post fire and the whin will quickly regrow anyhow. In Eric Cross’s, ‘The Tailor And Ansty’ there is a tale of how a man wanted to ‘burn the mountain’ to make the grass grow better but the authorities were turning against the practice; the tailor tells that that at that time a comet was expected and there was a great fear that it might hit earth. he told the farmer to set the mountain alight at midnight and then come home and awaken all the neighbours and get them to pray to save the world from burning so that when the fire went out,the prayers were deemed to have succeeded and the farmer was hero. Burning the hilltops is part of the same tradition as the Easter ‘bunny’ which should be a hare and ‘Easter eggs’ both of which are associated with a moon goddess and have nothing to do with Christianity at all. That said, the mountains should not be burned, but fires have been lit on them for millennia and it is probably the dry spell and the wind which caused the current problems and naive to try and see it as some modern phenomenon..

  • joeCanuck

    If you look at the top picture you can see fires in Scotland and Wales too and in the Republic; none in England. That might support a Celtic tradition.

  • Fraoile

    ayeYerMa

    I assume you are saying the above with your tongue firmly in your cheek?

    We used to start minor fires on wasteland when we were younger, not out of tradition, not for any cause and not because of my religion but because we were wee shites with nothing to do.

  • The Raven

    “the farmers didn’t mind as the grass grew better post fire and the whin will quickly regrow anyhow.”

    …all very good, until the fire spreads, and the heather catches fire. And while the grass will grow back within days, or begin to, at least, the heather doesn’t. It’s supplanted by grass. And consequently much of the wildlife native to these areas disappears too.

    With this being nesting season, you can be sure that a lot of eggs are being nicely boiled. Is there not a small colony of very rare Twite on the north coast?

    I also hear that DARD has changed the rules on some set-aside land and wants a lot of gorse and heather removed. Of course, I’m not for one minute suggesting that this translates into actions by certain farming folk who would prefer a quicker route to its removal.

  • ayeYerMa

    Fraoile, partially tongue-in-cheek, partially not. On this site, as much as I hate it, the sad reality is that many things here boil down to green or orange in some way or another and many (if not most) contributors revel in discussing issues in such terms.

    I may indeed be being a shit-stirrer for showing interest in such theories, but I also want to get to the root of why this is happening and explore all possibilities honestly and uncensored – the geographical correlation is rather too strong for it to be ignored (FYI, I’ve heard this accusation in more than one Unionist circle – it’s something people will say in private only, but never discuss in public – there is no point in being dishonest and pretend such thoughts don’t exist). It may, of course, be due to the fact that the Unionist population is more urban, and Nationalist more rural, but even taking this into account there still seems to be a correlation – whether there is a cause and effect is a different matter.

    The theory of an old pagan ritual is indeed interesting. Regarding kids, in my youth I do remember being a “wee shite” too, harmlessly setting fire to some old pallets in the middle of an empty field, but not ever dreaming of or remembering anyone setting fire to whin bushes. Perhaps the prod kids also already have their need for pyrotechnic experimentation satisfied through the burning of constructed bonfires?

    Regarding habitats, I also agree with JR that we really should be planting some native deciduous trees. It is one of our (or the English’s) great shames that Ireland has changed over the centuries from being plastered in dense woodland to being the least treed area in Europe. Whenever I visit central Europe I’m always dismayed at how much more beautiful the tree-covered landscape appears. Indeed, it would be good if this gorse-burning could be looked upon constructively as a reason to start big effort to re-populate our landscape with its natural vegetation. Sadly, I’m not sure there is enough willpower around right now.

  • JR

    ayeYerMa,
    I think the fires have been burning in all our upland areas to be honest. One thing I would say (just from presonal experiance) I work with wind turbines and nearly all the crap land i have visited (high, windy and covered in whins and heather) is owned by Catholics. On our land (nationalist area) we have always had problems with wee scumbags lighting fires. Especially at halloween, easter or any other time where there is a period of dry weather.

    Interestingly both the celtic festivals of Samhan (haloween) and Baltaine (1st of may) are traditionally marked by burning whins.

  • Comrade Stalin

    sdelany, stop this nonsense. This is spides on a wrecking mission.

  • The Raven

    “It is one of our (or the English’s) great shames that Ireland has changed over the centuries from being plastered in dense woodland to being the least treed area in Europe.”

    It really didn’t take the English. There’s a wholly unacceptable lack of respect for existing environments across this entire island, whether they be built or natural. Even the so-called Department for Agriculture can’t settle on a single environmental policy. And as for the Minister for Environment…well…he ain’t.

    “Indeed, it would be good if this gorse-burning could be looked upon constructively as a reason to start big effort to re-populate our landscape with its natural vegetation. Sadly, I’m not sure there is enough willpower around right now.”

    Nor – in the upperlands – would it be right to repopulate with anything other than heather, some native conifers (very few there are too) and reinstating blanket or raised bog. The lowlands…well…that’s a different story. And you’re right – the will isn’t there.

  • abigailH

    NASA is now starting its new project that could help reduce problems in the environment despite the end of its space shuttle program. NASA has had their space shuttle program cut. This does not, however, imply that NASA is disbanding. NASA, though, will not be shuttering procedures completely. Instead, NASA is going to be innovating in a different course. NASA estimates that the cleanup is going to cost $1 billion. The timeline for this cleaning is also well over thirty years, although it took years to damage the dirt. The proof is here: NASA will be spending billions on environmental cleanup. I’m glad for this step of NASA towards clean and safe future on Earth.