GFMC: Smoke in Southern Africa, 7 September 2000

Smoke in Southern Africa

7 September 2000

Fires routinely scorch the Southern African landscape at this time of year, blackening an area larger than Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota combined. But this year’s burning season, which reaches its peak this month, could be nearly twice as big as usual, according to researchers taking part in a NASA-supported field experiment studying the impact of these fires on global climate and the region’s air quality and ecosystems. According to the research report an average of ca. 1.295 million square kilometers (129.5 million ha) of grasslands burns annually in Africa south of the equator (for comparison: South Africa covers an area of 1.219 million square kilometres). The region’s heaviest burning is concentrated in the moist subtropical belt that includes Angola, the southern Congo, Zambia, northern Mozambique, and southern Tanzania.
For the whole report see Big Fire Season Underway in Southern Africa.

Data from both the SeaWiFS and Terra satellites are being used by an international team of scientists participating in the SAFARI field experiment. The objective of SAFARI is to measure the effects of windblown smoke and dust on air quality and the Earth’s radiant energy budget.

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SeaWiFS true-color image of Southern Africa, 4 September 2000
This  image below shows a thick shroud of smoke and haze blanketing much of the southern half of the continent.
The smoke in this scene is being generated by a tremendous number of fires burning over a large area across the
countries of Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and the Northern Province of South Africa. In
this image, the smoke (grey pixels) is easily distinguished from clouds (bright white pixels).
(Source: NASA’s Earth Observatory)

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MODIS images of Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa, 20 August 2000
The MODIS Airborne Simulator [MAS (MODIS stands for Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, an
instrument aboard the Terra satellite)] took this image of a controlled burn. The true color image (left) shows plumes
of smoke blown in front of the advancing flames, and a developing burn scar. The infrared composite image (right)
sees through the smoke to reveal the hot flames (yellow) and the still-warm ground of the burn scar (orange)
(Source: NASA’s Earth Observatory)

The above information was taken from NASA’s Earth Observatory

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1 September 2000

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2 September 2000

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3 September 2000

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4 September 2000

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5 September 2000

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6 September 2000

Smoke from vegetation fires in Southern Africa 1 to 6 September 2000.
(Source: TOMS Global Aerosol Hot Spots Page)

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