Mapping Open Burning for the Himalayas and Andes

andes himalayas

Glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes are the main water sources for over 1.5 billion people. Due to climate change and deposition of short-lived climate forcers (black carbon, dust), these glaciers are melting rapidly. This melting has implications for freshwater sources, extreme flooding, and food security for much of South Asia and South America.

Burning of agricultural fields and wildland fires are sources of black carbon deposition on these glaciers. The aim of this research was to quantify all burning and the contributions of agricultural burning from 2003-2013. The results from this research were shared with the United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition (, International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (, and the Pollution and its Impact on the South American Cryosphere initiative (PISAC;


This analysis used MODIS 1 km Active Fire Data (data confidence values ≥ 60%) to map all fires ≥ 100 m2. Land cover was assigned from MODIS 500 m Land Cover Product for years 2003 -2013. Detailed maps were produced showing monthly and yearly spatial locations and trends of fires within the countries listed below:

Andean Countries

Himalayan Countries

Bolivia Ecuador Bangladesh Kazakhstan
Chile Peru Bhutan Mongolia
Columbia   China Nepal
    India Pakistan
%cropland fire

Live presentations of the resulting analysis were shared with UN CCAC meetings in Lima, Peru and Kathmandu, Nepal in February 2015.


Contributions from this work are included in the final project report approved by the UN CCAC:

For more information:

Amanda Grimm
Research Scientist