Fires in the Egypt River Delta As Seen From Space

©NASA

Fires in the Egypt River Delta

This NASA satellite image is of the Egyptian River Delta. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background.

When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for fire. The location, widespread nature, and number of fires in this image and confirmation from the Ministry of Environment in Egypt. Fires are witnessed every year in October and November, caused by farmers burning leftover straw from the rice harvest. At least 946 fires have been set this year to burn the leftover straw.

These fires give off plumes of heavy smoke. The smoke released by any type of fire (forest, brush, crop, structure, tires, waste or wood burning) is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter (PM or soot). The dark, thick smog has begun to creep into the Cairo skies and there are reports of dangerous levels of air pollution which exacerbates respiratory diseases.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on October 17, 2014. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner

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