Satellite Image Shows What 127-Degree Temperature Looks Like From The Sky

With heatwaves ravaging through their forests, Turkey and Greece resemble infernos.
Ameya Paleja
Satellite image of Greece and Western TurkeyEU/ Copernicus Sentinel

After melting critical infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest last month, heatwaves are showing their wrath over the eastern Mediterranean region now. Turkey and Greece,  battling intense heat waves appear like raging infernos in a satellite image released by the Copernicus-Sentinel 3 satellites.  

The Copernicus-Sentinel 3 is a pair of satellites, 3A and 3B,  launched in 2016 and 2018 by the European Space Agency. In a sun-synchronous orbit, 506 miles (814 km) above the surface of the Earth, these satellites capture images of the Earth using a wide range of scientific instruments to measure the topography and temperatures for environmental monitoring. 

After wildfires were reported in Greece and Turkey, the EMS Rapid Mapping Module was activated for the Copernicus Sentinel. This module is an on-demand service enabled during a natural emergency such as earthquake or floods or man-afflicted emergencies such as an industrial accident or mass migration. The rapid image acquisition and processing enables in determining the extent of the incident and providing information to decision makers for an appropriate response.  

This image was captured by Sentinel-3 satellites on Aug 2, 2021, and released the next day. The satellites measured the land surface temperature (LST) using their Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometers (SLSTR). These are extremely sensitive devices that can measure thermally emitted electromagnetic radiation and determine surface temperatures with an accuracy of 0.3 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as other important meteorological parameters such as water vapor profiles, wind speeds, precipitation, and snow.  

As seen in the image, LST in many parts of Turkey crossed 53 degrees Celsius (127 degrees Fahrenheit). LST is usually higher than the air temperatures since temperatures dissipate better in the air. The temperature updates that one receives from the Meteorological Department are also air temperatures.

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Amid many uncontrolled wildfires in Turkey, the air temperatures are also soaring. Locals and tourists are fleeing areas in the south, where over 100 fires have been reported, many still ongoing, Al-Jazeera reported. On the other side of the Aegean Sea, Greece reported 81 fires in 24 hours while temperatures crossed 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places, according to a Reuters report.  

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