Savannas in the tropics and subtropics are characterized by large seasonal variation in precipitation, resulting in grasslands mixed with trees. The combination of relatively high vegetation productivity and a distinct dry season, provides the ideal environment for the occurrence of frequent fires that play an important role in species competition, affect regional air quality, and global climate. In fact, the very existence of large parts of the savanna biome depends on these frequent fires, which humans have used to manage these landscapes since prehistoric times. Yet, in the coming decades the savanna biome may face large changes. Apart from a changing climate, many savanna areas will face considerable population growth, promoting land cover conversion and livestock grazing. The focus of the presented work is to better understand large-scale processes and changes within the savanna biome using satellite remote sensing of the last decades. I would like to start presenting results of a study on long term trends in vegetation structure, followed by focusing on recent trends and drivers of African savanna fire activity. Finally I would like to show some results on a new characterization of the spatial distribution of the fire diurnal cycle and fuel consumption along with a discussion of their potential drivers.