Fires burned throughout Bolivia in late August, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on August 31 as it passed over the region.
Red “hotspots” indicate areas where the thermal sensors on the instrument detected temperatures higher than background. When associated with smoke, as most of these are, such hotspots indicate actively burning fires. In many places the smoke from these blazes is thick enough to completely hide the land surface from the satellite sensor’s view. In general, the smoke plumes blow toward the west and northwest.
Wildfires can and do occur naturally in Bolivia, but the widespread burning evident in this image suggests that these fires have been deliberately set for agricultural management, including brush or crop residue. Although many such fires remain contained, they can escape control and also become wildfires.