06 October 2007

NT update

While much focus has been placed on events in NSW over the past few days, large regions of northern Australia, particularly in the NT continue to burn. Most of these fires have been noted previously on Australia Bushfire Monitor, most recently here.

Both images here are extracted from the Terra satellite overpass on 6 Oct 2007 at 0125 UTC (about 1100 NT time...). The original resolution is 500 m, although the image quality has been degraded. Red squares are hotspots detected by the MODIS instrument onboard the satellite. All noted locations are approximate.

The first image is from the central portion of the territory. Three large area either burning or recently burnt (the dark charred looking bits...) are apparent. (For a sense of scale, the distance between Daly Waters and Elliott is roughly 145 km.).

The two areas east of Daly Waters have been burning for about a week or so, and were noted in their incipient stages in this post. The western most fire has affected about 245 000 ha. Only a few small areas of hotspots remain. The more eastern fire is quite large and quite active. The area it is affecting is approaching 900 000 ha. Thick plumes of smoke are noted from the numerous hotspots on the southern and eastern flanks. These two areas are east of what was previously reported as the QLD/NT border fires, which affected about 1.4 million ha in the NT alone.

The third area, to the south and west of Elliott is the Tanami desert fires. It has been burning for approximately a month at this time. A quite broad and active fire front is apparent on the image. The length of the front is over 200 km. A large cluster of hotspots is apparent on the eastern end of the flank. There is currently not too much with this fire, although a few pyrocumulus are noted on the western side of the line.

The second image was extracted from a bit further north, in the southern and southeastern portions of the Top End. For scale, the distance between Katherine and Ngukurr is about 250 km. The fires which were previous reported in the Katherine area have been put out. A few small burn scars can be seen.

The eastern most fires, with the exception of the one east and south of Ngukurr, are all part of a loosely associated cluster of fires in that many of the burnt areas of the individsual events are contiguous. In all, over 1 million ha has been affected, though not with the same intensity from looking at the patchiness of color in the general area/ This is further supported by NAFI, which shows very splotchy automated burn scars.

To the northeast of Katherine are two main areas of fire. While there areas are currently active with a fair number of hotspots, NAFI suggests that much of the region was burnt earlier in the season, suggesting that these fires may not burn for too much longer. The first area of hotspots southeast of Katherine is burning near the Stuart highway, and may have or will affect traffic on the road.

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