Do man-made fires affect Earth's surface reflectance at continental scales?



Large and unexpected variations in surface albedo at a continental scale over Africa could be explained by intense biomass burning activities during the dry seasons. These phenomena have been recorded in Meteosat data used to estimate surface albedo changes and Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR-2) data used to monitor fire. The seasonal albedo changes observed cannot be explained by seasonally driven phenological cycles of tropical vegetation. A more complex set of mechanisms incorporating the effects of anthropogenic activities must be at work.