Burning Amazon Smoke Has Turned São Paulo's Skies Dark during the Day

The Amazon rainforest has been burning up for weeks with the effects now seen and felt in Brazil's largest city.
Fabienne Lang

Due to the amount of smoke emanating from the burning Amazon rainforest, Brazil's largest city, São Paulo's skies turned to dark in the middle of Monday afternoon. 

This year, Amazon's fires have increased by 82% in comparison with this period last year, according to the Brazilian government's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) as reported by LiveScience.

A combination of the smoke, clouds, and cold air (as it's wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere) led to the city's midnight-like darkness.


The fires are mostly concentrated in the Amazon region of Rondônia, and neighboring country, Bolivia. 

The Amazon fires

São Paulo itself is not experiencing any fires, the smoke is so dense and the fires so widespread in the Amazon, that the air is affecting millions of inhabitants of the city.

"The cold front changed direction, and its winds transported the smoke to São Paulo," said meteorologist at Climatempo, Josélia Pegorim.

This particular fire, in the state of Rondônia on the border with Bolivia, has turned almost 2,500 acres of land into ash. Aside from the horrific number of trees lost to the fire, the smoke the fire is creating has caused health concerns, and even leading to a flight changing its path. 

Human-made fire, human-related consequences

According to Painel Politico, a national publication, the fire was man-made, which is apparently one of the most common ways these forest fires light up. 

When farmers try and use fire to keep their crops in check, or clear land for pastures and farmland, these can sometimes get out of hand, burning up the land around it. 

Unfortunately for us, with less dense rainforests, Earth's carbon dioxide levels increase. Typically during droughts, around July and August in Brazil, trees slow down their growth, and in doing so they struggle to remove the carbon dioxide from our air. 

Burning Amazon Smoke Has Turned São Paulo's Skies Dark during the Day
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of several fires burning in the states of Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, and Mato Grosso on August 11, 2019. Source: NASA Earth Observatory
Burning Amazon Smoke Has Turned São Paulo's Skies Dark during the Day
And the image captured on August 13, 2019. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

In nature's cyclical way, the trees' leaves and small branches drop and fall to the ground, creating perfect tinder to start a fire. With less density in the forest canopy, there's less moisture and shelter, leading the fires to burn up quickly, and vastly. 

The effect was so widespread in Brazil, that the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia quickly became popular on Twitter.

With a lot of pain, and sometimes anger, some tweeters voiced their concerns on the social media site: 

 Here are some displays of what São Paulo looked like, very doomsday: 

Imagine a city looking like this at 3 pm: 

And this:  

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