August 23, 2019 11:58 pm
Updated: August 24, 2019 12:01 am

Amazon fires turn atmosphere from green to red with carbon monoxide in NASA animation

Two satellite images released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show smoke from a wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest. The number of wildfires burning in the region has hit a record high in 2019.


The wildfires blazing in Brazil‘s Amazon rainforest turn Earth’s atmosphere from green to red with heavy concentrations of carbon monoxide in an animation that was tweeted by NASA on Friday afternoon.

The animation was produced using data from the space agency’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument, which is located on the Aqua satellite at an altitude of approximately 5,500 metres.

Green represents carbon monoxide at a concentration of 100 parts per billion (ppbv), while yellow suggests 120 parts per billion, and dark red signifies 160 parts per billion.

The graphic shows clouds of red coalescing in the sky over Brazil before they travel west and east, over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, respectively.

WATCH: Aug. 23 — Satellite images show charred earth from Amazon rainforest fire

NASA noted that pollutants can travel great distances, and that carbon monoxide in particular can remain in the atmosphere for as long as a month.

“At the high altitude mapped in these images, the gas has little effect on the air we breathe,” the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a press release.

“However, strong winds can carry it downward to where it can significantly impact air quality.”

READ MORE: It’s not just the Amazon — wildfires have been burning around the world

The wildfires are believed to have been caused by cattle ranchers burning trees in order to create more land for their cows.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been blamed for emboldening them to do so after he said he would not add any more territory to Indigenous reserve land.

He has authorized the military to tackle the fires while environmentalists have protested against his policies.

WATCH: Aug. 23 — Protesters in Rio de Janeiro demand action from Bolsonaro government as Amazon burns

The rainforest wildfires are expected to form a topic of discussion at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France this weekend — both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron have expressed their hope that delegates will talk about it.

However Greenpeace has said that leaders there can’t let the fires distract people from their own plans to combat climate change.

Canada’s plan was ranked among the worst of the G7, alongside in the United States, in a report by the Climate Action Network.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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