Amazon rainforest fires got even worse last year

Amazon rainforest fires got even worse last year

Smoke rises from an illegally lit fire in a section of Amazon rainforest, south of Novo Progresso in Pará state, Brazil, on August 15th, 2020. | Photo by Carl de Souza / AFP via Getty Images

Fires in the Amazon reached devastating new levels in 2020, new NASA satellite imagery shows. The space agency developed a new tool to track fires from space after Brazil’s Amazon suffered a record-breaking year of fires in 2019.

Specialized sensors on satellites collect visible and infrared imagery, which NASA uses to detect thermal anomalies — basically hotspots caused by fire. Its satellites found 1.4 million of those anomalies in the Southern Amazon last year, compared to 1.1 million in 2019.

“Fire activity was up significantly in 2020,” Douglas Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in the announcement today. “All types of fires contributed to the increase, including…

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