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September 16, 2019

More Sept. Fires in the Cerrado Region of Brazil than Amazon

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Data from the Brazilian National Space Research Institute (Inpe) indicate that since the start of September, there have been more fires in the cerrado region of Brazil than in the Amazon region of Brazil, which is the reverse of what occurred during August.

According to Inpe, from September 1 through September 11, there were 9,082 fires in the cerrado regions of Brazil (44% of the total), 8,306 in the Amazon (40.3%), with 6.5% in the Pantanal, 5.5% in the Atlantic Coastal forest, 3.3% in the Caatinga of northeastern Brazil, and 0.4% in the Pampas of southern Rio Grande do Sul.

Virtually all of these fires in the cerrado region are caused by humans because this is the dry season and there is very little chance of lightning starting a fire this time of the year. Most of these fires were set by ranchers burning off their dry pastures at the end of the dry season in order to encourage new green shoots to emerge. Many of these fires occurred in the state of Mato Grosso because the state has the largest cattle herd in Brazil at approximately 30 million head.

Burning off pastures at the end of the dry season is a common practice in Brazil. This year the number of fires increased during the month of August due to very high temperatures above 40°C (104° F) and very low relative humidity. In many areas of central Brazil, the last significant rainfall was back in May.

According to Inpe, Mato Grosso registered 8,030 fires during August, which was an increase of 230% compared to August of 2018. From January 1st through September 9th, there were 22,042 fires in Mato Grosso, which was an increase of 62% compared to last year.

It is currently very hot in central Brazil with temperatures last week as high as 106°F in the city of Cuiaba, which is the capital of Mato Grosso. September can be the hottest time of the year in central Brazil due to a lack of cloud cover and intense solar radiation.

On September 21st, the sun will be directly above the Equator and it will then be directly above Mato Grosso as it progresses southward when it is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn on December 21st. The Tropic of Capricorn runs through northern Parana, which is south of Mato Grosso. Therefore, the sun is directly above the state of Mato Grosso twice a year.