The Amazon wildfires in Brazil have reached record levels with more than 75,000 fires tearing through the Amazon since January. The number has almost doubled the total outbreaks of fire recorded in 2018. The Amazon rainforest is a vital part of the global ecosystem, producing 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, and is home to one million indigenous people. On Thursday, space agency NASA shared satellite images of the dark smoke billowing out of Brazil, as seen on Tuesday, August 20.
NASA said: “This natural-colour 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.
“It is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity.
“Time will tell if this year is a record-breaking or just within normal limits.”
Despite NASA’s measured analysis of the situation, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has claimed a record number of fires in the Amazon.
According to the Brazilian agency, the number of fires has drastically increased by 84 percent since 2018.
On Thursday, at 4.57pm BST (3.57pm UTC), INPE recorded 75,336 fires since the start of the year.
By comparison, there have been 40,786 fires in 2018 – down by 22 percent in 2017.
The blazing hotspots are visible on NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application.
Satellite images taken on August 21 show dozens of red dots representing fires across South America, with a big concentration in Brazil.
The space agency said: “NASA provides insights into fires and thermal anomalies occurring daily around the world.
It is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year
“Satellite-derived fire data and imagery available in Worldview are from the MODIS instrument onboard the Terra and Aqua satellites and the VIIRS instrument onboard the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi-NPP satellite.”
The raging Amazon fires have chocked out the skies over Sao Paolo with black smoke.
On Wednesday, environmental protesters heckled Brazil’s Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles.
The minister appeared at a meeting on climate change where protesters shouted about the fires in the Amazon.
Environmentalists have blamed the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Government for failing to appropriately address the infernos.
The conservative president has, however, denied the severity of the situation, blaming it instead on an annual tradition of clearing rainforest land for crops.
Mr Bolsonaro said: “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame.”
The Brazilian president blamed NGOs, claiming they were setting fire to the rainforest.
But leading conservation groups have called the Amazon fires an environmental crisis.
The World Wide Fund for Nature said the “Amazon is burning” and blamed deforestation and climate change.
The environmental group said: “Land is cleared and prepared for agriculture through fires, but not normally at this intensity.
“The current dry season also contributes to the rapid spread of these fires.
“Our Amazon is on fire – and this is a direct consequence of accelerated deforestation. And the repercussions are devastating.”
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