Fires continued to burn across West Africa in late March, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the region on March 21.
Most of the fires, which are marked as red “hot spots”, are clustered in the green lands of Sierra Leone. Other fires speckle the landscape of Guinea (north and east) and Liberia (south). Farther inland, a few red hotspots can be seen in southwest Mali and Cote d’Ivôre. A smoky haze lies over the region, and a blanket of haze covers the Atlantic Ocean.>
While satellite images cannot discern the source of a fire, this pattern at this time of year in this region is typical of agricultural fires. Such fires are deliberately set to clear land, bring nutrients into the soil, prepare fields for planting, and renew pastureland. The smoke from the fires, however, create air pollution, which can cause health problems both in humans and livestock both close to, and far from, the source.