Fires in Australia

Fires in  Australia

12 January 2007

Fires in Victoria

Rivers of smoke up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide poured fromburning areas in Victoria’s Great Dividing Range Mountains on 11 January2007, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overheadand captured this image. Places where MODIS detected actively burning fires areoutlined in red. Many fires were burning dangerously close to Lake Thomson, theprincipal source of water for the city of Melbourne (beyond the western edge ofthe image).

According to news reports on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Website,a change in winds overnight between January 11 and 12 eased the fire threatsomewhat, but both stock and pasture were lost to flames in previous days. Themoderated conditions allowed firefighters to conduct backburns (controlled burnsof areas in the path of the wildfires) and build containment lines. Still, thedanger of these fires, some of which have been burning in the region since earlyDecember 2006, remains high.

11 January 2007

Hundreds of thousands of hectares (1 hectare is about 2.5 acres) have beenburned in Victoria since late 2006. Extremely dry, windy, and hot conditions inthe region since spring have kept the fire danger extreme across much of theregion for weeks at a time. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology,extreme fire conditions in the area are more common during years when El Niñoevents occur. During the fall and early winter (2006-2007), an El Niño likelyinfluenced the area’s climate. However, according to the Bureau’s mostrecent (January 10, 2007) update, the ongoing El Niño appeared to be weakening,which they said “bodes well for a switch towards wetter conditions acrossAustralia sometime in the late summer or autumn.”

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

The current situation in Australia is covered by a number of detailedreports (see GFMC Media web page):

Further Information on the Fire Situation in Australia:

SA Country Fire Service  Near-Real Time Wildland Fire Monitoring  Current weather situation, forecasts, fireweather More Information on Australian Fires IFFN country notes Department of Sustainability and Environment

Tasmania Fire Service

Further Information Australian and New Zealand links. Background information Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

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