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The Amazon rainforest fires in Brazil are visible from space in these NASA pictures

Smoke and fires from the Amazon rain forest in Brazil taken from space
Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

Brazil's Amazon rainforest is burning and the fire can be seen from space.

The photo above, taken on Tuesday, shows smoke and fires in the Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia states of Brazil. It was taken using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration's weather satellite.

The images below show the same region burning on Aug. 11 and Aug. 13, respectively. These images were taken with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), which lives on NASA's Aqua satellite.

Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview and VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.

Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview and VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.

It's common for farmers to start fires in the Amazon to clear cropland during July and August, the rainforest's dry season, to maintain farmland and clear land for other purposes, NASA said. What is remarkable is the number of fires.

Brazil's space research center, the National Institute for Space Research, which monitors fire activity with satellites, said the number of fires in Brazil between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20 rose by 84% from the same period in 2018, with more than 70,000 fires detected in Brazil's Amazon rainforest so far this year — the highest number since records began in 2013.

The fires are causing political controversy locally.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has baselessly blamed non-governmental organizations for starting the fires, while Bolsonaro's environmental minister Ricardo Salles tweeted that natural conditions — "dry weather, wind and heat" — were to blame.

Meanwhile, environmental organizations blame the fires on Bolsonaro and Salles for promoting a pro-business agenda that does not prioritize protecting the Amazon rainforest.

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Smoke and fires from the Amazon rain forest in Brazil taken from space
Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).
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