Fires in Mexico and Central America •

Fires in Mexico and Central America

Fires in Mexico and Central America. Scores of fires were burning in Mexico and Central America on April 16, 2003. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite shows part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala where an especially high number of fires were detected (marked in red). The high-resolution scene shows fires stretching northward into Mexico and southward into numerous Central American countries. Smoke plumes are drifting out overt the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest. Beneath the smoke, the colorful swirls in the water may be a mixture of sediment and marine plant life known as phytoplankton.

Measurements of carbon monoxide (CO) from the Measurements of Pollution in The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite show the pollutants from wildfires in southern Mexico being carried towards Florida. This image shows the mixing ratio of CO at about 3 km (700 km) above the surface for March 18-22, 2003. An image from SeaWIFS shows the smoke from the fires in the same region. There were numerous fires burning during this period on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Carbon monoxide is a good tracer of pollution since it is produced as a by-product of the combustion associated with wildfires and agricultural fires. The reds in this image show the highest levels of CO and blues show the lowest levels. The gray areas show where no data were collected, either due to persistent cloud cover or gaps between viewing swaths.

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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