Numerous fires are burning in the rainforests (top) and tropical savannas (bottom) of the Democratic republic of Congo (top), Angola (bottom left), and Zambia (bottom right) in south-central Africa. At upper right is Lake Tanganyika, and though the center point for each of these images changes, each contains a portion of the lake, which can be sued as a reference point. To the east of the lake (visible in other images in this series, is Tanzania).
Thousands of fires are set annually in these regions to clear land for farming and animal grazing. Although the practice is centuries old, and although fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, scientists are becoming concerned that expanding human populations have made the practice not sustainable, and that fires may be becoming too severe or frequent. This image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on May 16, 2002. This series of images reveals the widespread and enduring distribution of fires in the region.
In the false-color images, vegetation is green, water is dark blue or black, and burned areas are pinkish-red.