July 7, 2024 - Fires Continue to Scorch the Pantanal


July 3, 2024 June 21, 2024

After an exceptionally destructive and early start to the 2024 fire season, fires continued to ravage Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands in early July.

South America’s Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and an incredibly biodiverse and ecologically important ecosystem. Fire is common during the dry season, which normally begins sometime in July. The peak number of fires usually occurs in late August or September, before the rainy season begins.

This year, however, fires began to show up as early as May. By June, the Pantanal was ablaze. In late June, the Associated Press reported that Brazil’s Environment Minister stated, “we are facing one of the worst situations ever seen in the Pantanal,” then added that the entire Paraguay River basin is experiencing severe water scarcity. When water is scarce, wetlands dry up and vegetation becomes tinder just waiting for a spark to burn.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a false-color image centered near Corumbá, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil on July 3, 2024. In this type of image, fresh burn scars can appear brick red, orange, brown, or black and stand out in sharp contrast to bright green vegetation. Open land looks tan, and water looks brown.

It's clear from this image alone that fire has ravaged an extensive area of the Pantanal near Corumbá. To visualize how rapidly fire has spread, click on June 21, 2024, which will reveal a second Terra MODIS false-color image acquired on that date. The expansion of the burn scars in just two weeks is truly stunning.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 7/3/2024
Resolutions: 1km (52.6 KB), 500m (122.8 KB), 250m (184.2 KB)
Bands Used: 7,2,1
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC