Cloud-free skies allowed the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite to capture this true-color image of southern South America on April 15, 2013.Black borderlines have been overlain on the image to delineate country limits. From the upper left corner, moving to the right, the countries captured in this image include Chile, which spans the entire western coastline, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil. In the southeast, the vast lands of Argentina fill the frame, with Uruguay found tucked between southern Brazil and northern Argentina along the eastern coast.
Fires, marked by red “hotspots” accompanied by smoke, cluster in Paraguay and a few are seen in northern Argentina. At higher resolutions, many appear to be located on the edges of forested land, close to a pattern of rectangular tan (earthtone) or light green (primarily agricultural fields) grids in a dark green forest, and thus appear associated with forest clearing operations.
Biomass burning occurs routinely in these areas, primarily for agricultural purposes such as preparing fields for cropping, but also to burn away forest to permanently convert it to agricultural land. Biomass burning reaches its peak in July-October in this region.