Fires in the Southern Plains

Fires in the Southern Plains

On April 6, 2008, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite detected dozens of fires burning across the Southern Plains states of Kansas and Oklahoma. Locations of fires are outlined in red, and dark brown burn scars make geometric shapes across the surrounding landscape, where fields and pastures are still dormant.

This part of the southern plains is known as the Flint Hills, a stretch of tall-grass prairie that is predominantly used for cattle pasture. Each spring, the ranchers burn sections of the prairie to suppress weeds and discourage woody plants. The ash returns nutrients to the soil to fuel the new spring growth. Green areas in the left side of the scene may be winter wheat.

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

References & Resources

  • References
  • Hoy, J. (1989). Tales out of School. Emporia State University, Center for Great Plains Studies Website. Accessed April 8, 2008.