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TechnologyThe Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help

23:30  21 august  2019
23:30  21 august  2019 Source:   cnet.com

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Officials say the Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate. Earlier this month, Brazil declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region. So far this year, almost 73,000 fires have been detected by Brazil's space research center INPE. That marks an 83% increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013, Reuters reported.

The Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. The rainforest is burning at an alarming rate, NASA says. Brazil Photos/Getty Images The Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help© CNET

The rainforest is burning at an alarming rate, NASA says.

What caused the fire?

While the rainforest is typically wet and humid, July and August, the onset of the dry season, are the area's driest months, with "activity" peaking by early September and stopping by mid-November, according to NASA. The fires are largely linked to people clearing out the land for farming or ranching.

How Did the Amazon Rainforest Fires Start?

How Did the Amazon Rainforest Fires Start? Brazil has experienced a record number of wildfires this year, more than half of which occurred in the Amazon region. That's according to data collected by the country's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The figures show an 83 percent increase in comparison to the same period in 2018, representing the highest number of blazes since the agency began collecting such data in 2013, Reuters reported. In fact, INPE says it has identified more than 72,000 fires in Brazil between January and August this year, comfortably more than the roughly 40,000 recorded in the entirety of 2018.

What areas are affected?

Satellite images show fires in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Rondonia, Para and Mato Grosso. The state of Amazonas is most affected, according to Euronews.

How big is it?

You can see the smoke from space. The European Union Earth Observation Program's Sentinel satellites captured images of "significant amounts of smoke" over the Amazonas, Rondonia states and other areas.

The skies darkened over San Paulo, Brazil, for an hour Monday afternoon after winds carried smoke from about 1,700 miles away.

The Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. An aerial view of the Amazon rainforest burning. Brazil Photos/Getty Images

How has the public responded?

Social media started the hashtags #Prayfor Amazonas and #AmazonRainforest. Twitter users criticized media for giving more attention to the fire at Notre Dame and other news than to the rainforest fires. Social media users also called out billionaires for lack of donations.

Amazon fires caused by humans, environmentalists say

Amazon fires caused by humans, environmentalists say The rainforest protection group Amazon Watch says farmers, emboldened by the government, intentionally set the forest ablaze

Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has also faced criticism, with people charging him with lack of action and encouraging logging and farming in the Amazon. In early July, an anonymous senior Brazilian official told the BBC Bolsonaro encouraged deforestation.

NASA has been monitoring the fires. Over the past week, the Aqua satellite and Sentinel 3 have been tweeting images of the smoke on social media.

How can I help?

It's unlikely you're one of the people who can actually help douse the blaze, but there are other ways you can aid in protecting the rainforest.

  • Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
  • Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
  • Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you're buying is rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest safe products here.
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature works to protect the countless species in the Amazon and around the world.
  • Ecosia.org is a search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.
The Amazon rainforest is on fire: Cause, scope, and how you can help© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
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Researchers are using drones to study the Amazon rainforest's health.
Researchers from Harvard University are using drones to better understand the Amazon rainforest. With drone-based sensors, the researchers hope to determine the unique "fingerprint" of different rainforest ecosystems. That could help them monitor the health of the forest and understand how it's responding to climate change, deforestation and fire. Every plant emits a different volatile organic compound (VOC) signature, or fingerprint, which can change based on factors like drought or flood. By monitoring these signals, scientists can study how forest ecosystems adapt to stressors.

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