NASA publishes a new series showing the carbon monoxide collapse generated by forest fires in Brazil, tracking changes every day beginning August 8. The country is experiencing record fires this year and as of August 23, there are more than 2,500 active fires across the Amazon. A NASA time series map shows carbon monoxide concentrations at an altitude of 18,000 feet.
The data were collected from the space agency's AIRS instrument, located on the Aqua satellite. Each "day" in the animation represents three actual days ranging from August 8 to August 22. NASA explains that the green parts of the map represent carbon monoxide levels of about 100 parts per billion by volume.
The yellow areas represent a concentration greater than about 1
According to NASA, carbon monoxide is able to hang in the atmosphere for about a month. Assuming that the gas is trapped so high in the atmosphere, it will not have a major impact on the air that people breathe. However, if the downward pull pulls carbon monoxide lower, NASA warns that it can "significantly" affect breathing air quality.
Carbon monoxide is released from trees when burned, with a major impact on climate change in addition to air pollution. According to the Amazon Ecological Research Institute, the spike in fires is the result of deforestation. NASA monitors fires with its satellites on Earth, informing the public.