Agricultural burning continued in West Africa through February, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the fires on February 25 as it passed over the region.
An intense cluster of red hotspots can be seen in southern Guinea, on the borders of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Heavy activity is also seen in southern Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. The red hotspots mark where the thermal sensors on the MODIS instrument detected temperatures that were higher than background. When accompanied by characteristic smoke plumes, they are diagnostic for actively burning fires.
Fire is often used as an agricultural management tool in this region. Fires may be deliberately set to clear crops and the end of the season and to prepare the ground for new planting; to renew pasture and to clear new ground for agriculture. While there are benefits to such techniques, the resulting smoke results in air pollution which may be harmful to human and animal health.