11 May 2012
Fire season across most of the Amazon rain forest typically begins in May, peaks in September and ends in January. The new model, which forecasts the fire season's severity from three to nine months in advance, calls for an average or below-average fire season this year within 10 regions spanning three countries: Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.
"Tests of the model suggested that predictions should be possible before fire activity begins in earnest," said Doug Morton, a co-investigator on the project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This is the first year to stand behind the model and make an experimental forecast, taking a step from the scientific arena to share this information with forest managers, policy makers, and the public alike."