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ESA Data Puts 2019 Amazon Fires In Context, and It’s Good News

Pleasantly surprising data from ESA:

Attention on fires last year sparked an international demand for up-to-date information on active fires – particularly in Brazil. However, these numbers were never compared to the number of fires over a longer period of time.

Detailed in a recent paper published in Remote Sensing, scientists using data from ESA’s Fire CCI project, analysed burned areas in South America in both 2018 and 2019 – and compared the data to the 2001-18 yearly average.

According to the report, the total burned area in South America was around 70% more in 2019 compared to the same period of 2018, however only slightly more than the yearly average over the past 17 years.

There are some nice graphics in the ESA post, but this one really tells the story:

ESA Data on Amazon Fires, 2001–2019

Credit: ESA

Turns out 2018 was a good year, and 2019 was pretty close to the norm over the last two decades. Context helps.