Winter into Spring is the time farmers in Southeast Asia prepare the land for planting crops. On March 13, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the region and captured image of fires across Indochina. The image is centered on Myanmar (Burma), with Laos to the east, Thailand to the south, and Bangladesh, Mizoram, and Tripura to the west.
Fire is used in cropland areas for pest and weed control and to prepare fields for planting. Crop residue burning helps farmers as it is a cheap and effective method to remove excess residue. If this excess residue is not removed, future seeding is prevented by shading out the next crop and facilitating mold growth. Crop residue burning also provides a short-term ash fertilization effect.
Although this seasonal burning helps farmers with their crops, it has detrimental effects as well. Vast amounts of smoke are released into the atmosphere causing air pollution and adversely affecting health, especially to those with respiratory concerns.
Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner.