July 29, 2014 - Fires in Central Africa

Fires in Central Africa

This true-color satellite image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on July 02, 2014. Hundreds of actively burning areas, detected by MODISís thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for fire.

The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality.

The majority of the fires are clustered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (north) and Zambia (south). Angola, in the southwest, has relatively fewer fires but a smoky haze can be easily seen. Tanzania lies to the east of Lake Tanganyika.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 7/2/2014
Resolutions: 1km (1.6 MB), 500m (5.5 MB), 250m (12.8 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC