Fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest have surged in September, already making it the worst month in more than a decade, government data showed on Monday, after a jump in deforestation during an election year.

Iran PressAmerica: Dry weather, wind, and heat"—those were the factors that Brazilian Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles blamed for the rising number of forest fires in the Amazon in a recent tweet. But scientists in Brazil and elsewhere say there is clear evidence that the spike is related to a recent rise in deforestation.

The blazes are surging in a pattern typical of forest clearing, along the edges of the agricultural frontier, says Paulo Artaxo, an atmospheric physicist at the University of São Paulo. Historical data show the two phenomena are closely linked: Chainsaws lead the way, followed by flames, and then cattle or other forms of development. "There is no doubt that this rise in fire activity is associated with a sharp rise in deforestation," Artaxo says.



By Saturday, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had counted more than 41,000 fire spots in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year, compared with 22,000 in the same period last year.

Deforestation is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil. The smoke from the burning biomass is laced with massive amounts of soot, aerosols, and carbon dioxide that can interfere with weather patterns across the region and contribute to global warming. Studies show the Amazon functions like a giant air conditioner and humidifier for South America, producing and recycling much of the water vapor that flows into the lower parts of the continent.


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