Fires in Central Africa •

Last update: November 15th, 2019 at 11:00 am

On June 13, 2008, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of Africa, showing widespread fires and smoke over Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia. Places where MODIS detected actively burning fires are marked in red. Forested areas (top center) are deep green, while areas of sparser vegetation (savannas, grasslands) are lighter green and tan.

Fires related to agriculture and pastoral activities are common across Africa; the part of the continent where burning is most prevalent varies with the occurrence of dry and rainy seasons. Later in the winter (this area is south of the equator), the most widespread fire activity will shift farther south. Although such fires are not necessarily immediately hazardous, they can have a large impact on air quality and human health, climate, and natural resources.

The high-resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides this image in additional resolutions.

Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

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