Amazon Fire History Since 2003

By Les Johnson – Re-Blogged From WUWT

We are told that Amazon fires are at record levels right now. This is a blatant lie. The only “record” is that Amazonian fires have DECREASED over the “record”.

This is what we are being told.

Fig 1: Screen Shot of Google Search (search term: Amazon Fires at Record)

This (is) what the data actually looks like, to August 22. Yes, its updated daily.

Fig 2: Amazon Fire Totals via MODIS (2019 is highlighted)

This comes from a wonderful site,

It uses NASA MODIS data, from the Terra and Aqua satellites, and is updated daily. By going to the website, you can look at individual regions in the Amazon, or as I have done, look at the totals for the Amazon. This site also has global data, but I am only looking at the Amazon region here.

The Interactive Graphs are very informative. Hovering the cursor over the graph will show the data at that point.

You can highlight individual years, by clicking on a year in the legend at the bottom of the graph. That year remains bright, while the rest are dimmed. Using Eyeball Mark 1 Trend Indicator (EBM1TI), 2019 is slightly high, but not at record levels. Not even close.

One thing I saw by looking at each year, was a rough pattern – one or two bad years, one or two years at much lower levels, then a bad year. This pattern is there until 2010. 2010 was the last “bad year”. Levels since 2010 have been 1/2 or less of the “bad years”. The old pattern has been broken.

Not only does this site calculate number of fires, it also calculates carbon emissions (in Tg) from the fires. Note that the site issues a caveat about estimated later data, hence its grayed out.

This emissions chart from the website shows what I was talking about, in alternating bad/good years. But as I said, only until 2010. It is obvious there is a reducing trend in emissions, again using EBM1TI.

Again, by hovering the cursor over the bar chart, you can look at data points. Clicking on a legend at the bottom will highlight that series.

Is it significant? Dunno. I need to download and trend the data. I can say definitively, that there is no increasing trend, and 2019 is a LOONNGG way from record territory.

Fig 3: Annual Estimated Amazonian Emissions

Note that the Annual Emissions would have to incorporate fire area, to get the total emissions. Just in case anyone would object that fire numbers are not fire area.

Conclusion: Amazonian fires, using very current NASA data, show a decline over the record, and are nowhere close to a record so far in 2019.

Postscript 1: As Willis often says, if you disagree with something I said, quote exactly what I said, and why it is wrong.

Postscript 2: This might be a good Reference Page. Have a “Fires” page, with the MODIS charts embedded. Charles, Anthony?

Postscript 3: The NY Times claims 2019 fires are way up, over 2018. That is correct. What they don’t say, is that about 1/2 the years BEFORE 2019 are higher, and about 1/2 are lower. Cherry picking of the first order.

Postscript 4: Nick Stokes points out that one province is at record levels of fires. True, its just under record levels today. But that means that the rest of the entire region must be UNDER average (2003-present). Looking at each region in the Amazon Basin, that is indeed true. Santa Cruz and Amazonas are above average, the rest are at or well below average. Result? The entire region is very nearly at the MODIS average for this time of year.


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