This year, destruction of the world’s largest rainforest rose 9.5 per cent from 2019 to 11,088 square kilometers (2.7 million acres), according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency INPE.
The grim update came after there had been indications that it would not be good news for the Amazon earlier in the year.
In September, INPE scientists revealed that official data had been miscalculated and the number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon had increased from 2019, putting them at the highest level in a decade.
The destruction has soared since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and weakened environmental enforcement. The Brazilian government press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Independent.
A surge in fires in August 2019 to a nine-year high provoked outcry from global leaders and the public that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the world’s largest rainforest, with Mr Bolsonaro trading barbs with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Environmental advocates and scientists say that Mr Bolsonaro is to blame for weakening environmental protections and calling for the development of the Amazon. He has been an enthusiastic ring-leader to miners, cattle ranchers and illegal loggers pushing into one of the planet’s richest regions of biodiversity, and the home of thousands of indigenous peoples.
Mr Bolsonaro, a climate denier, insisted this summer that there were no fires in the Amazon rainforest, calling evidence produced by his own government showing thousands of blazes a “lie”.
In July, the Brazilian government instituted a three-month “moratorium” on fires in the Amazon following the deployment of troops earlier in the year to prevent blazes being started. The moves appear to have been ineffective.
The Amazon absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide and scientists say its protection is vital to curbing the climate crisis.
INPE published a note on its website on 19 August that said there had been a problem with NASA’s Aqua satellite that generates the fire data and as a consequence the data had been incomplete since 16 August.
NASA has similarly published notices on its website warning of issues with the satellite.
Dr Setzer said Inpe has been looking for alternative data sources in order to correct the problem, estimating that it may take one to two weeks for the final data to be published.
Once correcting for the data that is almost entirely missing for the Amazon for 16 August, along with smaller differences generated by missing data for the northern Amazon since then, the final number should show a slight rise, he said.
Reuters contributed to this report