Fire detections by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite have been the highest since the year 2010 so far, with indications that 2019 may hit a record number of fires in the Amazon. NASA has been using MODIS sensors to detect thermal anomalies all over the world since 2003.
The timing and location of MODIS' fire detections during this year's dry season in the rainforest are more consistent with land clearing than regional drought, Douglas Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement by NASA.
"MODIS detections are higher in 2019 than at this time last year in all seven states that comprise the Brazilian Amazon," Morton added.
The Amazon rainforest, which provides around 20% of the world's oxygen, has been ablaze for weeks now. The fires have sparked public outcry as environmentalists blame loggers and ranchers for setting the flames in order to open more land to agriculture — serving a massive blow to the ongoing fight against the effects of climate change.