Fires in Mexico and Central America •

Last update: November 12th, 2019 at 11:00 am

During the dry season in Central America and southern Mexico (roughly between December and May), fires are common. This image of the area was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 18, 2007. Places where MODIS detected actively burning fires are marked in red.

Fires are concentrated in agricultural areas of northwestern Guatemala. Although agricultural fires are not necessarily immediately hazardous, they can have a strong influence on weather, climate, human health, and adjacent natural resources. Each fire season scientists in the tropical forests of northern Guatemala must keep a close eye on agricultural fires to make sure they do not accidentally invade natural areas and preserves that protect archaeological ruins from the Maya civilization. Read about the role of MODIS fire detections in protecting Maya ruins in the sidebar “Fire Alerts Go Global,” part of the Earth Observatory feature article Fire Alarms from Orbit.

Credit: NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center

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