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Posted on May 7th, 2024

Our Changing Landscape – 2024 Wildfire on Agua Volcano, Guatemala

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of four and eight-band 3-meter imagery daily! In April, we looked at Valparaiso, Chile, and the damage caused by forest fires that swept through neighborhoods killing more than 100 people and displacing just as many. For the May edition of this series, we are headed to Guatemala and the dormant Agua volcano to look at the February 2024 wildfire that raged there.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope image collected over the dormant Agua volcano in Guatemala on February 16th, 22nd, 25th and 29th, 2024. In this four-image animation that spans a bit over two weeks, you can see the starting condition of the forests in the February 16th image. The image from the 22nd shows smoke billowing up from the various wildfires that started just the day before; by the 25th the flames have been reduced significantly as you can see from the much smaller smokestacks. And then by the 29th, the flames are almost completely put out. This month we have added a new slide where we circle the region to focus on – and by comparing the final image from the 29th to the image from the 16th which appears next, you can see just how much forest was scorched in about a week. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2024)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $2.25 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

February 2024 Wildfire on Dormant Agua Volcano, Guatemala

Not far from the capital of Guatemala raged a forest fire across the slopes of the inactive Agua volcano. The fire started in February and destroyed the vegetation spanning the upper part of the volcano. Helicopters dropped water on the flames to help the firefighters and military personnel who were on the ground trying to put the fire out from there.

Emergency personnel had been busy fighting 13 other forest fires in other parts of the country, said Claudinne Ogaldes, head of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, at a news conference.

Forest fires aren’t uncommon in Guatemala, as they burn upwards of thousands of acres each year, according to The Tico Times. Leaders blame dry conditions, which can be attributed to climate change and a decline in rainfall, along with planting prep work for sparking the fires, which typically burn between November and June. The forest fire burned on one of the highest points in Guatemala – the dormant Agua volcano.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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