On 10 July 2006, thousands of fires were burning across thesavannas of central and southern Africa when the Moderate Resolution ImagingSpectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Aqua satellite passed overhead. Each place where MODIS detected an actively burningfire has been marked in red in this scene, which spans parts of Angola,Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia. Some of the fires had distinct smokeplumes, which winds were blowing northwest. At upper left, the skies are sosmoky that the features of the landscape below are indistinct. Even the cloudsin the scene at left and upper right appear dirty.
MODIS 10 July 2006
No landscape on Earth experiences such extensive burning as thesavannas of Africa. For thousands of years, people in Africa have used fire intheir agricultural activities. They burn grassland to clear it for crops, tokeep woody plants and trees from invading pasture areas, and to renew pasturegrass. People have also used fire to drive game and facilitate hunting. Althoughfire has been integral to the ecosystems of southern Africa for millennia,increasing populations and demands on the landscape may change the frequency andintensity of burning. Such widespread burning, while not necessarily immediatelyhazardous, can have a strong impact on climate, human health, and naturalresources.