Fires in the Amazon

Astronaut photo of rainforest being cleared for agriculture in Brazil.

Acquired August 19, 2014.  View larger. | Image credit: NASA

View larger. | The Expedition 40 crew of the International Space Station acquired this image on August 19. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. Image via NASA

On August 19, 2014, an unusually cloud-free day at the height of the Amazonian dry season, several fires were burning in Brazil. You can see the broad smoke pall in this photo taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Against the backdrop of the dark green rainforest, several fires follow the major highway BR 163. The fires were set to clear patches of forest for agriculture, a process that reveals red-brown soils. See the long line of newly cleared patches that snakes east from BR 163 towards the remote valley of Rio Crepori.

Extensive deforested areas in Brazil’s state of Mato Grosso appear in tan across the top of the image. Fires show the advance of deforestation into the state of Pará, which is now second after Mato Grosso in terms of deforestation acreage.

Read more from NASA Earth Observatory

Eleanor Imster