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Posted on April 2nd, 2024

Our Changing Landscape – February 2024 Wildfire in Chile

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope image collected over the area surrounding Valparaiso, Chile on January 18th and February 3rd and 5th, 2024. The January 2024 image is provided for reference and in the February 3rd image you can see just how much land is already scorched and the flames are still active as you can see by the rising smoke stacks. By February 5th the flames here have been put out, but not before they tragically rolled through the neighborhoods pictured here – look in the north-central part of the animation for this significant damage. Our hearts go out to the families and friends impacted by this tragic wildfire. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2024)

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 March, we looked at Conakry, Guinea, and the damage caused by an oil explosion that sparked a massive fire in December 2023. And for the April edition of this series, we are headed to Valparaiso and surrounding towns in Chile for a look at an extremely rapidly moving wildfire that claimed more than 100 lives.

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 In and Around Valparaiso, Chile

Forest fires in Chile swept through entire neighborhoods February 5, killing more than 100 people. Hundreds more were reported missing. Officials say the death toll will continue to climb as firefighters and searchers investigate burned-down homes and comb through the forests.

Officials say February wildfires aren’t uncommon during the Southern Hemisphere’s summertime, but the current rash of wildfires has been labeled the most lethal of all the fires and the worst natural disaster since the 2010 earthquake. And it comes without shock to find out that scientists have also tied the level of destruction seen in this wildfire to Global Climate Change.

Chile President Gabriel Boric said the country faces a “tragedy of very great magnitude,” according to Reuters. From the loss of life to property damage, the wildfires damaged two coastal cities popular with tourists – Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

Thick smoke blanketed other urban areas as the blaze spread farther and farther across the region. Chilean authorities enacted a 9 pm curfew in the hardest-hit areas, and sent in the military to help firefighters curb the spread of fires. Helicopters flew overhead and dumped water to try to extinguish the flames from above.

By February 7, firefighters had extinguished all wildfires in Valparaiso, but the death toll bumped up to 131. It took almost 2,000 firefighters to battle the blaze that damaged around 15,000 homes in that area alone. As of the 19th, firefighters continued to attempt to quell the rash of forest fires, this time in the Araucania region of central Chile.

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 sales@apollomapping.com or (303) 993-3863.

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