05 September 2007

Kimberley fires redux

Several new fires, and the continuation of some of the ones noted previously are going in the Kimberley. The story was noted yesterday on ABC News Online. An interesting quote from the news article:

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) believes bushfires are burning through more of the region's vegetation each year which poses increasing threats to wildlife in the process.

Ed Hatherley from the DEC says as more vegetative matter is removed, the landscape is becoming overrun by cane grass, which is highly susceptible to further fires.

He says the fires destroy the habitats of many native fauna species which leaves them vulnerable to predatory cats and foxes.

Mr Hatherley says while there are increasing efforts to coordinate fire management between pastoralists and government authorities, the problem is getting worse.

"Each year they're getting larger and more intense and covering a bigger area because of that simplification of the landscape," he said.

"We're on a downward sliding scale if you like and it's certainly not sustainable."

The map below, taken from NAFI late on the evening of 5 September, shows the extent of the fires which have burned this season. The Dampier Peninsula has been especially hard hit, and the fire near Thangoo, noted in the news item above, has already burnt in excess of 300 000 ha (I estimated 331 500 ha from NAFI...).

Also below is a MODIS image, taken from the real time website. The image has 250 m pixel resolution and is taken out of the 'browse image' posted in near real time on the MODIS website. It was captured around 0215 UTC (1015 WA time...) on 5 September. The smoke plume from the Thangoo fire is massive. Also showing active smoke plumes in the image are the fire on the central Dampier Peninsula and further north, near the coast.

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