Central Africa Still Lighting Up With Fire

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 28, 2018
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Central Africa Still Lighting Up With Fire
Fires In Central Africa

The last image posted of the fires across Central Africa was on October 30, 2018. This image was taken almost a month later by the Terra satellite on November 27, 2018 and shows about the same amount of fire activity in basically the same areas.
These fires, which continue throughout Central Africa’s agricultural season, are most likely the product of human activity rather than just random wildfires. Farmers in this region of the world use the agricultural method of “slash and burn” to clear fields after the harvest. This method uses little technology and as such is a more economical method to clear fields. The resulting layer of ash provides the newly-cleared land with a nutrient-rich layer to help fertilize crops. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality. Although these fires cannot be definitively proven to be agricultural in nature from a satellite image, it is the most logical explanation given the information present.

NASA’s Terra satellite collected this natural-color image using the MODIS instrument on November 27, 2018. NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now.” Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). Caption: Lynn Jenner

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