Orbital View of Numerous Fires in China

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 23, 2015
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Orbital View of Numerous Fires in China
Fires in China

In China, there is a peak in fire activity in October after the maize harvest, although most of the fire activity occurs in June after the wheat harvest.
China’s northeastern plain, also known as the Manchurian plain, lies between the Greater and Lesser Khingan and Changbai mountains. Covering 350,000 km2, it is China’s largest plain, with an elevation of lower than 200 meters. The Songhua, Nen, and Liao rivers run through its vast and fertile land. This area of China has huge areas planted with wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, sugar beets, sunflowers. With the harvesting of these crops comes the burning of the detritus left behind to fertilize the land. This activity is what is captured in this satellite image, the “after harvest burn.” Although farmers have been banned from this practice due to complications associated with the air pollution, the practice continues all over the world.

NASA’s Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on October 23, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.

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

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