GFMC: Fires in Brazil and Neighbouring Countries, 2 June 2000

Fires in Brazil and NeighbouringCountries

2 June 2000

Vegetation fires on Brazilian territory and neighbouring countries have been monitored. The latest NOAA 12 and 14 satellite derived fire products shown below.

click to enlarge (10 KB) click to enlarge (10 KB)

Fig.1 and 2. INPE-DSA Fire product (NOAA 12 and 14), 1 June 2000
(Source: INPE-DSA)


Several active fire signals were recorded by NOAA/NESDIS/OSEI on 30 May 2000:

click to enlarge (631 KB)

Fig.3. NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite images of Brazil, 30 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue) are visible from numerous fires burning in Brazil’s Mato Grosso area.


The Center for Weather Forecasts and Climate Studies (CPTEC) – of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) is the gateway of Brazil to high quality meteorological forecasts. The computer system receives information derived from Meteosat and GOES satellites, meteorological observational data from GTS Network of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) and from the Brazilian Network which is under the responsability of INMET (Ministry of Agriculture). Aditional information comes from the DEPV (Air Force), DHN (Navy), state meteorological centers and from other international centers. The Brazilian satellite (SCD-1) collects important enviromental data and information for the meteorological research at INPE.

click to enlarge (28 KB) click to enlarge (24 KB)

Fig. 4 and 5. Fire risk maps for Brazil: Map of daily observed fire risk 30 May 2000 (left) and predicted risk for the next day (right).
For real-time fire-weather forecast: See special meteorological bulletin (in Brazilian-Portuguese) for the Deforestation Arc (states of Acre, Rondônia, South of Amazonas, North of Mato Grosso, Southeast of Pará, Central and Northern Tocantins, and East of Maranhão)
(Source: CPTEC).


Fire in Amazon Rain Forests: Some General Remarks
The Brazilian Institute for Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) conducted an extensive study of burning activities in the Amazon region which is generally refereed to as “Arc of Deforestation” (arco do desflorestamento) in which the forest conversion by fire and wildfire activities are predominantly occurring.

43376 Byte

Fig. 6. Arc of Deforestation in Brazil
(Source: IBAMA 1998)

IBAMA differentiates between two kinds of vegetation fires, agricultural burnings (queimadas), where fire is traditionally used as a tool for preparing pasture or crop land. The other type of vegetation fire is defined as “uncontrolled fire in any kind of vegetation, caused either by man or natural causes” (“wildfire” or “forest fire”).
Most of the fires in Brazil must be seen in the context of intensive land development. Fire is used as a tool in forest conversion. This is done by small farmers as well as large agro-industrial companies. The careless use of fire often allow the “prescribed” burnings to escape and become forest fires in the adjacent forests. These wildfires are of global importance because they threaten global biodiversity as well as the livelihood and cultural identity of the indigenous people in Amazonia.
Almost all fires in the Amazon Region are human-caused, natural fires play a minor role in the tropical rain forest of Brazil and neighbouring countries. In the seasonally dry forests and bush formations (cerrado) lightning fires are observed occasionally.
Under normal weather conditions the primary forest in the humid tropics does not catch fire. The hydrological cycle in the closed forests produces a very humid microclimate where unfavourable conditions for forest fire exist. But in forests where selective logging already took place the former closed canopy is disturbed. This allows more light to penetrate through the canopy and thereby changing the energy balance within the forest – the forest becomes more susceptible to drought. With trees shedding their leaves in the extreme drought stress caused by the El Nino event in 1998 the fuel for forest fires increases dramatically and the risk of high intensity wildfires increases.
The following town regions in the State of Para and Apiacas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia were identified by IBAMA as high risk areas for destructive forest fires. This classification is based on the fact that in this region logging, mining and illegal prospecting and free range cattle rearing are concentrated in Brazil:

Tab.1. Town regions with high risk of forest fires

State of Para and Apiacas

State of Mato Grosso

State of Rondonia

Conceicao do Araguaia
Eldorado dos Carajas

Alta Floresta
Nova Canaa do Norte
Peixoto Azevedo
Sao Felix do Xingu
Porto Alegre do Norte
Santa Terezinha

Alto Paraiso
Nova Mamore

The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and IPAM Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia have prepared an Information Bulletin for the Buenos Aires Climate Conference. The bulletin describes the early warning of the upcoming fire seaon in Brazil early 1998 and the extent of damage. The bulletin provides also links to the WHRC and IPAM websites.
The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) provides real-time satellite imagery of fire events in Brazil. The website of INPE is currently available in Brazilian (Portuguese), but will soon have an English version as well.
An extensive archive on the Brazilian fire events of this year can be found under the OSEI special on Brazil Fires.
A detailed study on the spatio-temporal dynamics of the Boa Vista- Roraima fire events by the Space Applications Institute of the Joint Research Centre European Commission (Ispra,Varese) for the CLAIRE/LBA study can be seen at:
The Brazilian Environmental Monitoring Centre (NMA) EcoForca is an Brazilian NGO which gives extensive information about issues like deforestation, forest fires etc. in Brazil. The NMA website provides background information to the current situation in Brazil.

IBAMA 1998.Programa de Prevencao e Controle as Queimadas e aos Incendios Florestais no Arco de Desflorestamento “PROARCO”. IBAMA, Brasilia, 49 p. (The full text of the documentation is available in Portuguese under
See also the Brazil IFFN Country Notes and the Amazon Emergency Fire Prevention and Control Project PROARCO of the World Bank.


New Publications
Flames in the Rain Forest
– A comprehensive and alarming study on fire in Brazil’s Amazon forest. Source: D.C.Nepstad, A.G.Moreira, and A.A.Alencar. 1999. Flames in the rain forest: Origins, impacts and alternatives to Amazonian fire. Pilot Program to Conserve the Brazlian Rain Forest. Ministry of Environment, Secretariat for the Coordination of Amazon.
Forests on Fire A review on fires in the world’s rain forests, particularly in Brazil and Indonesia. Published in Science, Vol. 284, pp. 1782-83, 11 June 1999 (will be added later to the GFMC website).
Cryptic Deforestation – A recent article by a joint Brazilian-US group of scientists on the impact of forest fires on forest impoverishment in Brazil’s Amazon region, published in Nature.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien