The annual southern Africa burning season is fully underway in late July 2005. Each year, farmers and herders set fire to fields and grasslands to create soil-fertilizing ash, stop woody shrubs from encroaching on grasslands, and stimulate new plant growth. For those who don't live or travel there, it can be hard to imagine a continent on fire from coast to coast for several months a year. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the immense spatial scale of the seasonal burning in Southern Africa. Thousands of active fires were detected by MODIS across Angola (left), Democratic Republic of Congo (top), and Zambia (right); their locations are marked with red dots. Though these fires are not necessarily immediately hazardous, such large-scale burning can have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response team.
Southern Africa's annual agricultural burning season got underway in May 2005 and was still going strongly in July. Fires speckled the landscape across Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania.