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Temporal Anomalies in Burned Area Trends: Satellite Estimations of the Amazonian 2019 Fire Crisis

Tropical forests are known for hosting about half of the global biodiversity, and therefore are considered to be a fundamental part of the Earth System. However, in the last decades, the anthropogenic pressure over these areas has been continuously increasing, mostly linked to agricultural expansion. This has created great international concern, which has crossed the limits of national policies. A clear example was the last crisis suffered this year (2019) in the Amazon, and in general, in tropical South America (SA), due to the increasing fire activity in the region, which is strongly linked to deforestation and forest degradation. International media extensively informed the world about fire activity based upon active fire data, which provided quick but incomplete information about the actual fire-affected areas. This short paper compares fire occurrence estimations derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data of active fires and from burned area products for the first 10 months of 2019 in SA. Results show a significant increase in fire activity over the full-time series (2001–2018) in Bolivia, Paraguay and Venezuela, while Brazil shows a much higher BA than in 2018, but with values around the average burned area of the whole time series.

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