Fires were burning across central Africa in early January 2005. The widespread nature of the fires and the time of year indicates that these fires are being set intentionally for agricultural purposes. Though not necessarily immediately hazardous, such large-scale burningand the resulting smokecan have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources. The following images were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
06 January 2005 06 January 2005 06 January 2005 Fires in Africa MODIS captured these images of Africa, showing the annual agricultural burning season fully underway. MODIS detected hundreds, possibly thousands, of fires, and their locations are marked with red dots. December and January are some of the months in which farmers and herders engage in agricultural burning, and most of these fires are probably agricultural fires. People set fires to clear farmland of the previous season’s crop stubble, to stimulate the growth of new, more nourishing grasses, and in some cases, to clear woodlands and rainforests to create more room for agricultural activities. Although agricultural fires are not necessarily immediately hazardous, the in-correct use of fire and the high frequency of burning has devastating long term effects on soil productivity. The high-resolution images provided above are 500 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at additional resolutions.