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Fires and Smoke in Bolivia and Brazil
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Fires and Smoke in Bolivia and Brazil

April 23, 2013
On September 17, 2005, hundreds of fires were ablaze across South America as the annual biomass burning season was in full swing. The plumes of smoke from these fires was being pushed to the northwest by the wind, leaving skies over parts of Bolivia mostly clear, while blanketing southern Brazil with thick haze. The image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, and places where the sensor detected active fires have been marked with red dots. Although fires occur naturally in the drier woodlands and savannas of southeastern Brazil and Bolivia, as well as in other central South America countries, the Amazon rainforest didn’t have a fire season until human influence became widespread. Now, people set fires to clear the rainforest for cattle ranching, subsistence farming, and large-scale crop production, such as soybean farming. Fires also accompany logging, sometimes intentionally, other times accidentally. Although it is not necessarily immediately hazardous, such large-scale burning can have a negative impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC