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Fires in the Southern Amazon
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Fires in the Southern Amazon

September 15, 2005
In central South America, smoke pours from hundreds of fires burning across parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina in this image captured by Aqua. Locations where the sensor detected active fires are marked in red. Along the top portion of the scene is the Amazon Rainforest, which transitions to drier woodlands and mixed grassland landscapes farther south. Fires congregate along new roads and at the edges of existing clearings in the Amazon, indicating they are caused by people clearing or managing existing agricultural land. While they are not necessarily immediately hazardous, such fires can have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources. Natural or “wild” fire is an important natural ecological process, often caused by lightning strikes. Forest fires create a mosaic of patches that contain a variety of tree sizes and ages, which in turn provides greater diversity of habitat for other species. Images such as this one are used by scientists to map the extent of fires and to target smaller areas for more intensive observation.


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