Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
The fire season in central Africa roared to life in the first week of May. When the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the region on the afternoon of May 6, 2004, it captured this image along with nearly 4,000 fire detections (marked in red) in southern Democratic Republic of Congo (top right) and northern Angola (bottom left). Most of the fires were clearly set during the day, as fewer were detected in the Terra satellite’s morning overpass.
Each year, the region experiences widespread agricultural burning (for example, pasture renewal and land clearing.) The widespread nature of the fires pictured here and the time of year suggest that the fires are being set intentionally for agricultural purposes. Though not necessarily immediately hazardous, such large-scale burning can have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources.
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