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New NASA images are revealing how dire the Amazon fires situation has become as the crisis can now be seen all the way from space.
Around 75,000 fires across the Amazon
Satellite data collected by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) from August 22 has already revealed a total of around 75,000 fires across the Amazon since the start of the year. This is a rise of 84% on the same period last year.
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Now NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview is revealing a shocking image from space of the smoke caused by the fires. "This natural-color image of smoke and fires in several states within Brazil including Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia was collected by NOAA/NASA's Suomi NPP using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument on August 20, 2019," said NASA's posting.
Just a day before the image was taken, gigantic clouds of black smoke had descended upon the city of São Paulo and plunged the city into darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument, has also released images of the movement high in the atmosphere of carbon monoxide associated with the fires.
"A pollutant that can travel large distances, carbon monoxide can persist in the atmosphere for about a month. At the high altitude mapped in these images, the gas has little effect on the air we breathe; however, strong winds can carry it downward to where it can significantly impact air quality. Carbon monoxide plays a role in both air pollution and climate change," said NASA.
Finally, the NASA Worldview instrument released another shocking image of the extent of the fires. Each red dot in the image represents a fire or a “thermal anomaly”.
Exacerbated by human activity
Forest fires are a normal occurrence in the Amazon during the dry season from July to October. However, environmentalists are worried that human activity may be making matters far worse.
Burning in the region is seen as the most effective way of clearing land for agriculture.