Image of the Day: The Wildfires that Continue to Burn

Credit: NASA

Wildfires have been burning throughout the Western U.S. for months, and with nearly two months still to go in the wildfire season, 2012 is likely to break the national record — set in 2006 — for most acres burned. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires have consumed more than 8.6 million acres, an area larger than the state of Maryland.

The above satellite image shows the numerous fires that continued to burn in the Northwest on September 17, 2012, taken from NASA’s Aqua satellite. You can also monitor and obtain stats on the blazes in real-time using our new interactive wildfires map

And this year is not a fluke. Wildfires are becoming more common and widespread as temperatures rise and large parts of the U.S. become drier — a trend likely to worsen thanks to manmade climate change. There are other factors that are favoring more and bigger wildfires, such as the decades of active fire suppression that have created dense forests with ample fuel, making fires more difficult to control.