Loboda, TV; Giglio, L; Boschetti, L; Justice, CO (2012). Regional fire monitoring and characterization using global NASA MODIS fire products in dry lands of Central Asia. FRONTIERS OF EARTH SCIENCE, 6(2), 196-205.
Central Asian dry lands are grass-and desert shrub-dominated ecosystems stretching across Northern Eurasia. This region supports a population of more than 100 million which continues to grow at an average rate of 1.5% annually. Dry steppes are the primary grain and cattle growing zone within Central Asia. Degradation of this ecosystem through burning and overgrazing directly impacts economic growth and food supply in the region. Fire is a recurrent disturbance agent in dry lands contributing to soil erosion and air pollution. Here we provide an overview of inter-annual and seasonal fire dynamics in Central Asia obtained from remotely sensed data. We evaluate the accuracy of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) global fire products within Central Asian dry lands and use these products to characterize fire occurrence between 2001 and 2009. The results show that on average similar to 15 million ha of land burns annually across Central Asia with the majority of the area burned in August and September in grasslands. Fire is used as a common crop residue management practice across the region. Nearly 89% of all burning occurs in Kazakhstan, where 5% and 3% of croplands and grasslands, respectively, are burned annually.