Fire Season in Northern Africa
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Fire Season in Northern Africa

December 17, 2005

Thousands of fires were burning across the savannas of northern Africa south of the Sahara Desert in early December 2005.

The region's dry season lasts through the winter months and into early spring, and during that time people use fire to manage farm and range land.

This image from December 5, 2005, shows widespread fire activity (active fire locations marked in red) detected by Aqua.

A savanna is mostly grassland with a few sparse trees; savannas are located in areas that are too hot and dry to support forests but receive too much rainfall to be desert. Fire plays a role here, too, preventing the establishment of trees and effectively promoting the spread of grasses.

Savanna is the largest biome or broad scale vegetation zone, in Africa: savanna covers about half of the continent, while desert comprises only about a third and tropical rainforest only a small fraction.

This region was home to large populations of wildlife, but overhunting, soil erosion, and desertification have reduced these to remnant populations largely confined to game reserves.

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