September 21, 2010 - Fires in southeastern Africa

Fires in southeastern Africa

Numerous large fires were burning in the Republic of Mozambique and in South Africa when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image on September 15, 2010. Wind blows the thick plumes of pale brown smoke east over the Indian Ocean. The fires are outlined in red.

Most of the fires were probably set by people who use fire as a tool to manage land, but some of the fires may be wildfires. The savannas of southern Africa have long been shaped by fires, which remove woody bushes to make way for grasses. Since September is the end of the dry season in South Africa, plants are at their driest and the landscape is prone to fire.

In this image, black lines are added to represent the boundaries of countries. Mozambique is the Y-shaped country and has broad areas marked with hundreds of red hotspots. To the south lies South Africa. A small circle, representing Swaziland, sits between those two countries. To the far north of the image, the southernmost edge of the United Republic of Tanzania projects into northern Mozambique. Zimbabwe forms a curving boundary to the west of Mozambique.

The city of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, is located at the southern end of the country, on the west side of Maputo Bay and to the northeast of Swaziland. It is home to over 1,240,000 people and an important harbor center for commerce and manufacturing. In this image, gray smoke from multiple fires blow across the city, nearly obscuring it from view.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 9/15/2010
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC