Skip navigation Getting the global picture


1. Storms of dust and tanks

2. Big eyes upstairs

3. Eyeing melting ice

4. At the big disconnects

5. Finding fish - by satellite

6. Fire and brimstone



Satellite image shows fires (red dots) in southern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Central America. From space, we've learned how common fires are around the world; about 90 percent are started by people. Fires may be a cheap way to prepare ground for planting, but burning a forest may set in on the road to desertification. Each year, people burn 750,000 to 8.2 million square kilometers of forest and grassland. As global warming proceeds, experts expect more fires. Photo from NASA Earth Observatory.
Satellite map of Central America is dotted with red spots that indicate fires in coastal regions as well as interior land. Clouds and blue ocean surround the land.

Gray shows haze from fires and industrial pollution over Bangladesh and northeastern India on Feb. 14, 2003. Up north, the Himalayan Mountains are largely snow-covered. Image by Jacques Descloitres, NASA GSFC.
Satellite photo of India, with northeastern portion covered in white and southwestern portion a mix of greens and browns.

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The Why Files

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