NASA has released a ghostly image of the earth that highlights the number and location of fires across the planet. The image is made up of satellite observations from the past week and combined in a single image by a NASA software.
Not all fires have the same origin. In North America and Chile, it is mainly forest fires. Especially in the South American country, the cause of the forest fires – which have burned almost 1.5 million hectares in two years – was the center of a recent study published in PLOS One. An international collaboration emphasized how the displacement of indigenous species for more inflammable exotic vegetation and tree planting, due to climate change, has aggravated the problem of forest fires (or the flames have blown?).
"Unfortunately, fires in central Chile are being stimulated by increasing human inflammation, a drier and hotter climate and the availability of abundant combustible fuels associated with pine plantations and degraded shrubs dominated by invasive species," co-author Professor Anibal Pauchard, from the university from Concepcion, said in a statement.
In Africa, the fires in the place are probably linked to agriculture and the management of the land. It is quite common to use fires to bring nutrients back to the soil, like eliminating unwanted plants. The enriched soil is great for crops and meadows, but fires have the obvious disadvantage of reducing air quality in the area.
Another special hotspot is Brazil, where researchers thought that the detected fires are a mix of agricultural and forest fires. In the country, forest fires are also used as a means of deforestation during the dry season. These deliberately started fires can spread easily and burn much longer than expected and in a much larger area than planned, especially if the region suffers from drought.
The picture also shows forest fires in Australia, which have ruled for a long time thanks to the hot, dry climate and the large unrestricted bushlands. But the bushfire season starts two months earlier than before, due to the even hotter and drier summers in the country below.
The image was created using the NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), and you can view the interactive version here. The system has more than 700 global full-resolution image layers, such as the fires and thermal anomalies used in this image. Each dataset is updated within three hours of the observation. If you like to keep an eye on the earth, this is the tool for you.