June 5, 2013 - Fires in Angola

Fires in Angola

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite detected hundreds of fires burning in Angola on May 24, 2013. The fires are marked in red, and most appear to burn in grass or cropland.

The location, widespread nature and number of these fires suggest that these fires were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and clear the fields for planting. This type of field clearing is easy and cost effective for farmers, especially where heavy machinery is unavailable. In this region, about 80% of farmers are small holders, cultivating a very small plot of land and these plots have had very low productivity since civil war ravaged the nation.

While fire helps in planting crops, clearing fields and renewing pasture, it brings a cost. Smoke decreases air quality, and can cause a number of respiratory problems in both animals and humans.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 5/24/2013
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC