Fires in West Africa The West Africa biomass burning season that began in November 2002 is still underway in late March 2003. This true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aqua satellite on March 24, 2003, shows scores of fires (in Red) heavily concentrated in Sierra Leone, with other fires scattered across Guinea (top) and Liberia (bottom right). The high-resolution image provided above is 500 meters (3/10ths of a mile) per pixel. CREDIT: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
Scientists using NASA satellite data have found the most intense global pollution from fires occurred during droughts caused by El Niño. The most intense fires took place in 1997-1998 in association with the strongest El Niño event of the 20th century.
Bryan Duncan, Randall Martin, Amanda Staudt, Rosemarie Yevich and Jennifer Logan, from Harvard University, used data observed by NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite to quantify the amount of smoke pollution from biomass burning over 20 years.
"It’s important to study biomass burning, because those fires produce as much pollution as use of fossil fuels. Most of the pollution from fires is produced in the tropics, while pollution from fossil fuel use occurs in North America, Europe and Asia," Logan said.
Rob Gutro | NASA / Goddard Space Flight Cent
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