Fires on the Falkland Islands
This natural-color satellite image of wildfires on the East Falkland Island was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on September 27, 2012. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
Some interesting facts about the Falkland Islands were found on the Marshall Space Flight Center's Flickr account discussing another wildfire photo from 2007. That photo can be found here.
From Marshall's Flickr account: "The Falkland Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, referred to by Argentina (which also claims the islands) as the Islas Malvinas. The main islands of East Falkland and West Falkland are separated by Falkland Sound (12 kilometers) wide at the narrow point. Together they total about the same area as the State of Connecticut or Northern Ireland. The islands lie almost 500 kilometers from the Argentine coast and less than 1,000 kilometers from Antarctica.
The windy and relatively dry climate has given rise to natural vegetation comprised of treeless grassland with scattered bogs. The grasslands are ideal for sheep rearing which was the dominant occupation until recent decades, when fishing (mainly squid to Spain) and tourism became the mainstay of the economy."
Originally, it was thought that these wildfires were due to the abundance of dry grasslands catching fire, but an eagle-eyed reader from the West Falkland Island had this to say, "The fires are not wildfires, but have been deliberately set to burn the tops off the grass to encourage new growth. When the lambs [are] born, the ewes and lambs will be moved into these 'camps'; this is why the fires are in the same place as 2007. It only happens at this time of year; in a couple of weeks time it will be too dry. Love seeing the photo; last week we had a westerly wind that blew the smoke over my house on West Falkland."
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner.