de Araujo, FM; Ferreira, LG; Arantes, AE (2012). Distribution Patterns of Burned Areas in the Brazilian Biomes: An Analysis Based on Satellite Data for the 2002-2010 Period. REMOTE SENSING, 4(7), 1929-1946.
Fires modify the structure of vegetation communities, the carbon and water cycles, the soil's chemistry, and affect the climate system. Within this context, this work aimed to understand the distribution patterns of burned areas in Brazil, during the period of 2002 to 2010, taking into consideration each one of the six Brazilian biomes (Amazon, Caatinga, Cerrado, Atlantic Forest, Pampa and Pantanal) and the respective major land cover classes. Data from the MODIS MCD45A1 product (burned area), as well as thermal anomalies (MOD14 and MYD14) and precipitation (TRMM), were analyzed according to the 2002 Brazilian official land cover and land use map (PROBIO). The Brazilian savanna biome, known as Cerrado, presented the largest concentration of burned areas detected by MODIS (73%), followed by the Amazon (14%), Pantanal (6%), Atlantic Forest (4%), Caatinga (3%), and Pampa (0,06%) biomes. Indeed, in the years of 2007 and 2010, 90% and 92% of Brazil's burned areas were concentrated in the Cerrado and Amazon biomes, respectively. TRMM data indicated that during these two years there was a significant influence of La Nina, causing low rainfall in the Amazon, Cerrado, Caatinga, and Atlantic Forest biomes. Regarding the land cover classes, approximately 81% of the burned areas occurred over remnant vegetation areas. Although no unequivocal correlation can be established between burned areas and new land conversions, the conspicuous concentration of fire scars, particularly in Amazon-Cerrado transition (i.e., the Arc of Deforestation) is certainly not a simple coincidence. Such patterns and trends corroborate the need of improved territorial governance, in addition to the implementation of systematic fire warning and preventive systems.