There are currently a large number of fires burning in
tropical countries around the world. Most recently, the
Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) obtained these
relatively cloud-free looks at Madagascar and Southern Central Africa,
revealing quite a few fires across those regions.
The top scene is a true-color image spanning across northern
Angola and into the southernmost portion of the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, in south central Africa. MODIS acquired this scene on May
16, 2001. The collective haze produced by the many fires (red pixels,
more easil seen in the full-size image)
appears to be quite thick toward the northeastern corner of the image,
along the border between Angola and the Congo.
The dark ribbon-like feature toward the bottom of this image marks
the northern edge of the Luando Nature Reserve in Angola. Looking
closely at this feature, it appears as if the Luando River is in flood;
or, perhaps this is a marshy zone along the Luando River that is prone
to standing water in the wake of the rainy season. The Cuanza River
marks the southern boundary of the Luando Nature Reserve.
The bottom scene is a true-color image of the island nation of
Madagascarlocated off the east coast of Mozambiqueacquired on May
13, 2001. While the east side of the island is hidden by clouds, the
central and west side of Madagascar had dozens of fires (red pixels)
burning across what is an already extensively deforested landscape.
Fires generally burn with less intensity in the morning, producing less
significant smoke plumes than in the afternoon when they heat up.
Toward the northwest of the island, notice the rich browns of eroded
soil in the water where the Betsiboka and Ikopa Rivers empty into the
Mozambique Channel. Without the roots of what was once a thick canopy
of vegetation, the soil has nothing to cling to and is therefore easily
swept downstream during rainy seasons.
Tracing southward along Madagascars west coastline, notice the
sediment coloring the water turquoise. Toward the southern end of the
island, the waters of the Onilahy River empty into the Bay of Saint Augustin. About 200 km (120
miles) north of the Onilahy River, the Isalo National Park stands out
like an emerald island on the light brown landscape.
Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team