Increased burned area in the Pantanal over the past two decades

Publication type

Journal Article

Research Area


Research Team

Tropical Rivers Group


Wildfires are behaving differently now compared to other time in history in relation to frequency, intensity and affected ecosystems. In Brazil, unprecedented fires are being experienced in the last decade. Thus, to prevent and minimize similar disasters, we must better understand the natural and human drivers of such extreme events. The Brazilian Pantanal is the largest contiguous wetland in the world and a complex environmental system. In 2020, Pantanal experienced catastrophic wildfires due to the synergy between climate, inadequate fire management strategies and weak environmental regulations. In this study, we analyzed recent patterns and changes in fire behavior across the Pantanal based on land use and cover (LULC) classes. The inter-annual variability of the fire and land cover changes between 2000 and 2021 was assessed using BA from MCD64A1 V.6 product and LULC data from Landsat satellite. Our work reveals that fires in the Pantanal over the last two decades tended to occur more frequently in grassland than in others land cover types, but the 2020 fires have preferentially burned forest regions. Large fire patches are more frequent in forest and grasslands; in contrast, croplands exhibit small patches. The results highlight that a broad scale analysis does not reflect distinct localized patterns, thus stratified and refined studies are required. Our work contributes as a first step to disentangling the role of anthropogenic-related drivers, namely LULC changes, in shaping the fire regime in the Pantanal biome. This is crucial not only to predict future fire activity but also to guide appropriated fire management in the region.


Burned areas, extreme events, LULC changes, Tropical wetland

Publication Details


Science of The Total Environment

Date Published


Subscribe to the EOS Newsletter

Stay in touch with the latest news, events, research, and publications from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Email is required

Email is wrong format

You Can Make a Difference

Partner with us to make an impact and create safer, more sustainable societies throughout Southeast Asia.
Make A Gift