(Sept. 5, 2000) -- SAFARI 2000, the Southern African Regional Science Initiative, brings together over 200 African, U.S., and international scientists in a multidisciplinary research effort aimed at understanding the sustainability of the region's sensitive and pressured ecosystems. An intensive six-week field experiment began on August 13, 2000, combining observations from NASA's Terra and Landsat 7 spacecraft, NASA's ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft, and several other aircraft, ground stations, and spacecraft. Research field operations are being coordinated from Pietersburg, South Africa.
SAFARI 2000 coincides with Southern Africa's dry season, the time of the most extensive biomass burning. The region is subject to some of the highest levels of biomass burning in the world. Fires regularly scorch the Southern African landscape, blackening an area larger than Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota combined. But this year's burning season, which reaches its peak this month, could be nearly twice as big as usual, according to researchers taking part in a NASA-supported international field experiment studying the impact of these fires on global climate and the region's air quality and ecosystems.
SAFARI 2000 planners track the changing location of fires with daily satellite maps provided by researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Several times during the field experiment, preplanned fires in protected areas such as game reserves are set to coincide with spacecraft passes over the region. Aircraft flights are also coordinated with these burns so that detailed measurements can be made of the fire and smoke plume.
NASA's Earth Observing System Project, a suite of spacecraft and interdisciplinary science investigations dedicated to advancing our knowledge of global change, is the primary sponsor of U.S. participants in SAFARI 2000.
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