Fires in Victoria, Australia

Fires in Australia

5 December 2006

Fires in Victoria

A river of smoke more than 25 kilometers wide flowed southeast toward the Tasman Sea from fires burning in the Great Dividing Range Mountains in Victoria, Australia, on5 December 2006. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terrasatellite shows the smoke crossing Ninety Mile Beach and spreading out over the sea. Fires (red outlines) were detected across a broad area of the mountains between Lake Eildon and the Dartmouth Reservoir. According to news reports, 50 fires—most of them in remote forests and parks—were burning out of control across Victoria in early December, and fire conditions were predicted to worsen in subsequentdays.

5 December  2006

Across Australia in 2006, fires sprang up before summer was even officiallyunderway. An ongoing drought and high temperatures have created extremely risky conditions for fires in many parts of thecountry. In late November and early December, satellites captured numerous images of fires in places as far flung as northwestern Australia and Southern Queensland.In most of Victoria (among other places in the country), rainfall in the six months preceding the outbreak of these fires was categorized as either at a “severedeficiency” or “lowest on record,” according to maps provided by the Website of the Australian government’s Bureau ofMeteorology.

The Bureau’s 22 November 2006, seasonal El Niño-Southern Oscillation update indicated that the current El Niño had strengthened throughout November. A strong El Niño could be bad news for firefighters in southeastern Australia. According to the Bureau of Meteorology Website, “El Niño events are associated with an increase in the number of extreme fire-risk days over southeastern Australia, thatis, days which are hot, dry and windy.”

The high-resolution image provided above has a spatial resolution of 250 meters perpixel.

Fires in New South Wales

On 5 December 2006, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured these images of fires in New South Wales’ Pilliga naturalareas. 

5 December  2006

Places where MODIS detected active fires are outlined in red. In aphoto-like, “natural-color” image, smoke from the large fires blocks the view of the landscapebeneath. A “false-color” image, enhanced with shortwave- and near-infrared light that MODISdetected, penetrates the smoke and makes the burned area obvious. The deep red of the scorched area contrasts sharply with the unburnedvegetation, which is bright green. The land surrounding the natural areas—a mixture of nature reserves and stateforests—is agricultural land.

(source: EarthObservatory).



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