NASA: surge in Amazon fires

August 31, 2010

The number of fire hotspots has surged in the Bolivian and Brazilian parts of the Amazon, reveals data and imagery from NASA.

NASA data presented by Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE) show the accumulated number of fires in Brazil have climbed by 156 percent over last year, from 18,502 to 47,514. Bolivia has seen its number of fires more than triple from 2,892 to 8,841.

The fires are believed to be primary the result of land-clearing for agriculture and cattle ranching. Unusually dry and windy conditions have enabled the fires to spread, sometimes into forest areas. The cattle and soy industries are important drivers of land use change in both Brazil and Bolivia.

An image released by NASA shows smoke obscuring a 2,500-kilometer corridor extending from Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil in the north to Argentina in the south. NASA's Aqua satellite, which measures fire at a greater sensitivity than the INPE figures presented above, detected 148,946 fires in the image, which was taken on August 23, 2010.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Click image to enlarge.

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NASA: surge in Amazon fires.