Fires in South Africa, snow in Lesotho

Fires in South Africa, snow in Lesotho
  • Credit:

    Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

The precipitation that brought snow fall to the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho in southern Africa was not enough to quench the numerous fires (marked with red dots) burning throughout the Republic of South Africa. These Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images from June 18, 2002, and July 2, 2002, show the snowfall in landlocked Lesotho contrasting sharply with the country’s brown, mountainous terrain. (In the false-color image, vegetation is bright green, bare soil is brown, and burned areas are reddish-brown.

In northeast Republic of South Africa, right along the border with Mozambique, the smooth, gray-brown terrain shows the boundaries of Kruger National Park. The Park was established in the late 1800s to protect game species, such as elephants, antelope, and bison, which were being hunted in great numbers. In this image, dark brown patches reveal the location of previous fires. The vegetation has yet to come back, and the landscape is virtually bare. NASA scientists study fire behavior in Kruger as part of the SAFARI field campaign.

Running southward through Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean is the muddy Limpopo River--known to many through Rudyard Kipling’s "Just-so" story about how the elephant got its trunk.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    July 2, 2002
  • Visualization Date:

    July 13, 2002
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration