According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and NASA, an incredible 9.1 million acres burned in the United States this year. That makes 2012 the third most blazing year since 1960. However, despite the large amount of land set aflame, the average number of fires was low, coming in at 55,505. The map above shows the fires that burned from January 1 through October 31. Most of the large wildfires centered in the West, where lightning and humans sparked blazes that firefighters fought to contain. Most of the lower intensity fires depicted in red were prescribed burns meant for ecosystem management.
During a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, NASA scientist Louis Giglio offered a summary of the 2012 U.S. wildfire season. He helps maintain the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) which keeps records from data gathered by two NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments and satellites. While final numbers are not yet available, Giglio this year will certainly break GFED records. An astonishing 9.1 million acres burned in the United States, fueled by high temperatures and drought.