Even for a region that sees a lot fires during the agricultural season, this scene seems to reveal an exceptional number of fires for countries from east-central to southern Africa. This true-color image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on September 25, 2002. Hundreds of fire detections are indicated by red dots. In the top center of the image is Lake Malawi, which is bounded on the west by Malawi, on the northeast by Tanzania, and on the southeast by Mozambique. Other countries visible in the image are (north-south along left edge) Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Republic of South Africa, and Swaziland (bottom center). Agricultural fires have been part of the ecological cycles in Africa for perhaps thousands of years, used to clear land and regenerate pasture. Scientists are studying these cycles to assess their impact on air quality, global warming, and ecosystem change.
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