Fires in South America

Fires in South America

30August 2006

Fires were widespread across South America on August 24, 2006,when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over thecontinent and captured this image. The sensor detected scores of active fires (locationsmarked in red) in a variety of ecological regions, and thick smoke hung over theland in many places.

In the top part of the image, fires are burning intensely along the marginsof large, tan-colored clearings that people have made in the Amazon Rainforest.The fires along the edges of the clearing may be fires set intentionally toclear new areas of rainforest for farming or ranching, or they may be accidentalfires that escaped from people’s control on established agricultural lands.

In the center of the scene, the deep green of the Amazon transitions to adeep brown color. This region is known as the Gran Chaco, a dry, hot region ofopen woodland and grassland. Unlike the Amazon, this region is prone tonaturally occurring fires, but the widespread nature of the fires and theirlocation along clearings and roads suggests that many could be human-caused.

In southern Brazil, eastern Argentina, and Uruguay, an expansive grasslandknown as the Pampas was also experiencing numerous fires at the time of thisimage. Large farms and ranches exist in the fertile plains of the Pampas, andthe fires seen here could be natural or human-caused.

24 August 2006

Fires in South America Image. Caption explains image.

The high-resolution image provided above has a spatialresolution of 500 meters per pixel (source: EarthObservatory).


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