The Suomi NPP satellite collected this natural-color image with the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument which detected hundreds of fires burning in Central Africa on June 13, 2016. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot is an area where the thermal detectors recognized temperatures higher than background. The location, widespread nature, and number of fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants.
While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality. The smoke released by any type of fire (forest, brush, crop, structure, tires, waste or wood burning) is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter or soot.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner