Dozens of red hotspots mark fires burning in western Ecuador in early December, 2013. The fires in this image are most likely agricultural in nature. 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.
This true-color satellite image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on Dec. 02, 2013. Actively burning areas, detected by MODISís thermal bands, are outlined in red.