GFMC: Fires in West and East Africa

Fires in  West Africa 

08 March 2004

The following MODIS scenes show firesburning in West Africa on 29 February 2004.

Terra Satellite
29 February  2004

This image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).

(Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC).

Pollution from Fires across Northwest Africa

Fires in the savanna south of the Sahara Desert, and in the tropical rainforests at latitudes just north of the equator, forms an intense swath of biomass burning across the African continent from December through to April each year. This is a region of high grass production and the majority of these fires are not wildfires, but result from agricultural waste burning associated with subsistence farming.

These fires produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, which is a good indicator of atmospheric pollution. The image above represents a composite of data collected over a 25-day period, from February 1-25, 2004, by the Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors represent the mixing ratios of carbon monoxide in the air, given in parts per billion by volume at an altitude of roughly 3 km (700 mb). The grey areas show where no data were collected due to persistent cloud cover. The high levels of carbon monoxide form a pollution plume that extends westward from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to South America. In such high concentrations, carbon monoxide has a significant impact on tropical air quality.

Following the satellite-derived vegetation health map for Africa,the weather-based ECPC Africa fire weather index map, as well as the global firepotential map are displayed.

Satellite-derived vegetation health map

The general stress situation is higher this year as compared to 2003.
(Source: NOAA/NESDIS Current Vegetation Health Image Maps)

ECPC Africa Fire Weather Index map

Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for 9 March
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for the next week
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

Global Fire Potential Map

Latest weekly global fire potential product map (upper scene) and
comparison with the situation in the previous month (map below)
(Source: NOAA/NESDIS Experimental Fire Potential Product)

Information on the fire situation in Ethiopia: See IFFN special reports at:

Further information on the fire emergency situation in Ethiopia (March 2000) can be obtained at:

For background information on theFire Situation in Africa see:
RegionalWildland Fire Networks (AfriFireNet) and 
IFFN Country Reports
on various african countries.

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