The West African fire season heated up in late March, 2013, as illustrated in this true-color image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite on March 30, 2013. Hundreds of fires light up the landscape of the coastal county of Sierra Leone and the inland regions of Guinea. Fires are also scattered throughout Liberia (south).
In this region, fire and human activity is tightly coupled to savanna ecology. Fire is often deliberately set as a tool for agricultural management of land. This includes removing crop residue, renewing pasture growth, clearing fields and driving pests and game. While the source of fires is impossible to directly discern from space, the pattern seen here is typical for fires primarily of agricultural origin.