View From Space: Agricultural Fires Dot the West African Landscape


Agricultural Fires

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite detected hundreds of fires burning in various countries in western Africa on December 04, 2014.

The fires are outlined in red. The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land and most of the fires burn in grass or cropland. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants and have been using this method of clearing the land for thousands of years.

Little smoke comes from the fires in the drier areas, but several of the fires in the greener areas emit plumes of smoke. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner Larger image

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