As they are doing in many locations in the Amazon, people are clearing away the rainforest in the region where the Tapajós River flows into the muddy Amazon in western Pará, Brazil. Fires are a common way for people to clear land and keep it cleared for pasture or farming, and on December 7, 2004, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of several fires (marked in red) burning in the area. Deforested areas are light green, while undisturbed forest is deep green. The Amazon reaches across the center of the image from west to east, and the Tapajós flows in from the south, near bottom center. The whole scene has a hazy appearance, caused by smoke from the fires pictured here, as well as other fires burning in places outside the boundaries of the image. Fires have been burning off and on in this region for more than a month.
Fires were widespread across South America on August 24, 2006, when MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the continent and captured this image. The sensor detected scores of active fires (locations marked in red) in a variety of ecological regions, and thick smoke hung over the land in many places.