Skip to main content

Astonishing satellite images show impact of Greece wildfires

A satellite image showing a wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes.
Wildfires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes. The image has been processed by combining natural color bands with shortwave-infrared information to enhance the fire front. It shows the extent of the burned area (visible in shades of brown) in the central part of the island, with a preliminary estimate of 11,000 hectares lost at the time of capture. ESA

Residents and thousands of vacationers have spent recent days fleeing wildfires in parts of Greece, with dramatic news images showing smoke-filled skies glowing orange as the fires rage.

The scale of the disaster has been highlighted by remarkable imagery captured by several observation satellites orbiting Earth.

Shared by EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), the images and footage clearly show the extent of the smoke and fire impacting the Greek islands of Evia and Rhodes.

The image below, for example, shows a blaze in the southern part of Evia, which is similar in size to Rhode Island. It was captured on July 24 by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite. To highlight the fire, the image has combined natural color bands with the satellite’s shortwave-infrared data.

#Wildfires are blazing through various parts of Greece, including the islands of Corfu, Rhodes and Evia 🔥

Yesterday, a fire spread in Evia and locals and tourists have been evacuated

This #Sentinel2🇪🇺🛰️ image from 24 July shows fire sweeping across the south of the island

— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) July 25, 2023

EUMETSAT also posted footage (below) showing wildfires on Rhodes, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of the Greek capital, Athens, captured by ESA’s Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 weather satellite.

“The catastrophic fires in Rhodes are clearly visible from space here, as MTG-I1 observed their resulting large smoke plumes on Saturday,” it said in a message posted with the footage.

The catastrophic fires in #Rhodes are clearly visible from space here, as #MTGI1 observed their resulting large smoke plumes on Saturday.
Please note: this is preliminary commissioning data.

— EUMETSAT (@eumetsat) July 24, 2023

In a thread accompanying the post, EUMETSAT explains how it adjusted the footage to make it look more natural.

In another incredible image, smoke can be seen billowing from Rhodes, blown south by winds spreading the catastrophic fires and hampering efforts to contain them. EUMETSAT notes that this is a “false color” image that’s designed to highlight the spread of the smoke.

A close-up view of #Ροδος🇬🇷 #Rhodes in #Greece🇬🇷

Yesterday, #Copernicus #Sentinel3🇪🇺🛰️captured this false-colour image of the island, with the burn scar visible in brown

According to @CopernicusEMS' latest delineation map, an area of 13,312 ha has burned

— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) July 25, 2023

In some good news for those involved, Greece’s meteorological service has forecast that temperatures will begin falling in the region from Thursday.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
See the first image of Earth from a new weather-monitoring satellite
First image of the full Earth disc from the Meteosat Third Generation Imager. The first image from Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) reveals a level of detail about the weather over Europe and Africa not previously possible from 36 000 km above Earth. The higher-resolution images provided by the instruments on board give weather forecasters more information about the clouds cloaking much of Europe and visible in the equatorial region of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. Sand and sediment in the waters off Italy are also visible, as well as dust or smog being carried from south Asia. This degree of detail is not possible from the instruments on the Meteosat Second Generation satellites. The image was captured at 11:50 UTC on 18 March 2023 by the Flexible Combined Imager on MTG-I1.

A recently launched weather satellite has sent back its first image of Earth, showing our planet in gorgeous detail. The European Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 was launched in December of last year with the aim of monitoring weather conditions across Europe and Africa, and it took this image from its location 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface.

The image was taken using the high-resolution Flexible Combined Imager instrument in March 2023, showing the areas of cloud and clear skies that can be seen over the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the European and African land masses.

Read more
Satellite images of penguin poop lead scientists to ‘exciting discovery’
A satellite image of Antarctica.

In the ever-advancing field of global science, you might think that discovering animal poop in satellite imagery would be of little consequence.

But for a research team studying Antarctica, making such a find led to what it described as “an exciting discovery.”

Read more
Large NASA satellite falls back to Earth after decades in orbit
NASA's ERBS satellite.

A 5,400-pound NASA satellite has fallen safely back to Earth after 38 years in space.

The retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Bering Sea between Alaska and eastern Russia at 11:04 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 8, NASA confirmed in a tweet.

Read more