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October 18, 2019

The Amazon is Burning, and New Analytics Tell the Story

Oliver Peckham

The Amazon is burning. “Earth’s lungs” have been ablaze throughout 2019, and the dramatic extent of the fires has caught the world’s attention by storm. Still, many are left wondering what is to blame – and what can be done. Now, Logi Analytics has partnered with Conservation International to use real-time analytics to make it easier to understand the Amazon fires and engage with potential solutions.

The tool that Logi and Conservation International produced (titled “Fires in Amazonia”) is a real-time, interactive analytics dashboard. The map shows the Amazon, extensively pinpricked by a swath of yellow, orange, and red dots representing areas where Conservation International has detected “thermal anomalies” with at least 30% confidence in the last 48 hours (red dots), week (orange dots) or season (yellow dots). The map also includes layers for indigineous and local communities, as well as for protected areas.

The new dashboard, highlighting the Amazon rainforest. Image courtesy of Conservation International.

Selecting any of the pinpoints – which are accurate to 1km – reveals details: “Thermal Activity: 10/15/2019, 2:15 PM”; “Confidence: 57%”; “16.60 MegaWatts”. The granularity of this data is made possible by NASA’s MODIS Aqua and MODIS Terra satellites, which can detect fire occurrence, location, confidence, radiative power and other descriptive attributes. The satellites each submit data twice daily, providing four total fire observations every 24 hours.

Monthly fire detections for the past five years to present. Image courtesy of Conservation International.

Conservation International walks readers through the data, employing a variety of graphs and charts to show where 2019 falls within the scope of Amazonian fires (August 2019 was one of the worst months in the last five years) and where the fires tend to occur (mostly outside indigeneous lands, but near forests). They also invoke another analytics tool – Trase.earth – to show the link between the clearcutting causing the Amazonian fires and Brazil’s beef and soy production.

This new work is an extension of Firecast, an application launched in 2015 that tracks fires across the globe. “In our conversations with government institutions in Bolivia, we recognized that each institution was creating their own manual reports with the data to share broadly across their teams,” Karen Tabor, director of early warning systems at Conservation International, said at Firecast’s launch. “By integrating Logi Analytics within Firecast, end users can now quickly analyze and understand their own local monitoring system data, and quickly distribute those reports so immediate action can be taken.”

This dashboard, meanwhile, is aimed more at the general public – and at policymakers.

“Up to 20% of the Amazon has already been lost,” Conservation International warns, “and researchers suggest that if this reaches 25% to 30%, the entire biome will be permanently altered, with global ramifications for our climate.”

The Fires in Amazonia dashboard can be accessed here.

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