Fires inWest and Central Africa

Fires and Smoke Haze in Africa

10 January 2005


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 burning—and the resulting smoke—can have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources. The following images were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).

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09 January 2005


09 January 2005


09 January 2005

Fires and extensive smoke haze 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.
West Africa is coverd with extensive smoke haze that has a strong impact on human health.

The high-resolution images provided above are 1 km per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at additional resolutions.

Source: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov

For background information on theFire Situation in Africa see:


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