Measurements of carbon monoxide (CO) from the Measurements of Pollution in The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument on NASA’s Terra
satellite show the pollutants from widespread biomass burning across southern and central Africa being carried westward over the south Atlantic Ocean. This image shows the mixing ratio of carbon monoxide at
about 3 km (700 km) above the surface for June 1-10, 2003. This MOPITT image corresponds well with an earlier true-color image from Terra MODIS that shows the locations of the fires and the resulting pall of smoke over much of the region on May 17.
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 carbon monoxide 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.
Image courtesy Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory, based upon data provided by NCAR and University of Toronto