West of Lake Tanganyika in east-central Africa, scores of fires (orange dots) were choking the skies over Democratic Republic of Congo with smoke on May 23, 2004. To the east of the lake, fires are burning in Tanzania, as well, though the air is considerably less smoky there. Fires were also detected in Zambia, which sits at the bottom right portion of the image, south of the lake.
The widespread nature of the fires and the time of year indicates that these fires are being set intentionally for agricultural purposes as part of the annual burning season. Though not necessarily immediately hazardous, such large-scale burning—and the resulting smoke—can have a strong impact on weather, climate, human health, and natural resources. This image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite.