Fires and smoke in central South America
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Fires and smoke in central South America

November 21, 2007
Thick, heavy smoke obscures Bolivia and other South American countries. Bolivia lies in the bottom center of the image, surrounded by Brazil to the North and East, Paraguay to the South, Peru (upper left) and Chile (lower left) to the West. On the far left of the image lies Lake Titicaca, South America´s largest freshwater lake. Fire is a common occurrence in this region and is often used to clear land for agriculture, add nutrients to the soil, provide pasture for grazing, and to stimulate forest growth. According to the Woods Hole Research Center, despite tropical deforestation, over 80% of the Amazonian forest still remains. Scientists from this organization have conducted controlled burns in order to study the impacts of fire on transitional areas in between the forest interior and the "Cerrado" or savannah-like grasslands. Researchers use images such as these to monitor fire impact and forest health.

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