On an unusually cloud-free day at the height of the dry season, several fires were burning in Amazonia, giving rise to a broad smoke pall easily seen from the International Space Station (ISS). Parts of the ISS appear along the margins of the photo.
Against the backdrop of the dark green rainforest, several fires follow the major highway BR 163. Fires are set to clear patches of forest for agriculture, a process that reveals red-brown soils. A long line of newly cleared patches snakes east from BR 163 towards the remote valley of Rio Crepori.
Astronaut photograph ISS040-E-103496 was acquired on August 19, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 70 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 40 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs, and Michael Trenchard, Barrios Technology, at NASA-JSC.
Following a notable increase in fire activity in August 2019 and a gradual rise in deforestation, scientists have been watching for signs of how 2020 might shape up. Several worrisome signs have emerged.