October 12, 2012 - Fires in the Falkland Islands

Fires in the Falkland Islands

This true-color satellite image of wildfires on the East Falkland Island was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on September 27, 2012.

Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red and are accompanied by broad plumes of smoke. Most of the fires are located in Lafonia, which comprises the southern region of East Falkland. Falkland Sound, which averages about 12 mi (20 km) in width, separates this from West Falkland.

Lafonia has been used for sheep farming since the early nineteenth century, and the practice continues, with large ranching operations being run from either Darwin or Goose Green, which are located further north. Open grasslands provide excellent pasture, and are most nourishing when they are lush and green. To improve pasture, fires are set in spring to burn the old, dryer winter grass in order to encourage new growth. The freshened pasture then will be used to feed the ewes and spring lambs.

Such agricultural fires recur annually, but only for a short time in the spring. Slightly later in the season – often by mid-October – the grasslands become too dry to ensure controlled burns. The fires in this image have been reported to be agricultural fires, not wildfires.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 9/27/2012
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC