Updated Fire Counts over the Legal Amazon

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Cumulative active fire detections from May 1st through August 28th from MODIS (Aqua + Terra) and VIIRS (SNPP) confirm that the 2019 fire season has the highest fire count since 2012 (the start of the VIIRS record) across the Legal Amazon. In addition, fires in 2019 are more intense than previous years, measured in terms of fire radiative power, consistent with the observed increase in deforestation. The updated figures include cumulative fire counts, cumulative fire radiative power (FRP), and an estimate of the average FRP for active fire detections each day. Fire detections in August 2019 from both sensors have higher average FRP than other recent years (2012-2018) for the fire season across the southern Brazilian Amazon.

Combined Terra + Aqua MODIS fire counts for the Legal Amazon since 2003

The combined MODIS data record from the Terra and Aqua satellites begins in 2003. Interpreting the longer MODIS record requires careful attention to economic and climatic variability over the past two decades. The MODIS time series of fire activity in the southern Amazon includes drought years (2005, 2007, 2010, and 2015-2016) and periods of higher deforestation activity (2003-2008). 2019 is not an extreme drought, despite the potential for lingering impacts from a weak El NiƱo that developed in late 2018 and warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical north Atlantic (see seasonal forecast information, below). The reported increase in deforestation in 2019 is also not at the level of clearing mapped by INPE during 2003-2008. Thus, MODIS fire counts to date in 2019 are a remarkable departure from recent years, but not a record for fire activity during the MODIS era. The figure below shows cumulative fire detections, cumulative fire radiative power (FRP), and mean FRP for Terra and Aqua MODIS fire detections from May 1st to August 28th for 2003-2019. Mean FRP per fire detection in 2019 is consistent with observations from years with more deforestation fires (2003-2007).