Dense smoke lingers over Southeast Asia in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, collected on March 30, 2005, by NASA’s Terra satellite. It is currently the dry season, a time when fire is common in Southeast Asia. Though several fires, marked with red dots, were detected when Terra flew over in the morning, the majority of the smoke was probably generated the previous day. During the day, hundreds of fires are set, so that by the time the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over in the early afternoon on March 30, the landscape was covered with fire.
In 2005, severe drought dried the vegetation throughout Southeast Asia, making the region more prone to fire. The effect of the widespread fires on air quality is clearly visible in this image. The heavy grey smoke settles in the valleys of northern Laos and Thailand, and blankets sections of Myanmar and Vietnam.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained from the Goddard Earth Sciences DAAC.