02 November 2007

Australian Bushfire Activity: 18-27 Oct 2007

Below is the latest 10-day composite of hotspots from Australia as presented as the NASA MODIS Rapid Response map. The image identifies all hotspots detected over the 10 days in question by the MODIS instruments on board the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites. The dates of the image are 18 through 27 October.

The main focus of fire activity during this period remained in the NT. The Tanami Desert fires remained visible in the latest image, although it largely appears to be out at this time, with only a few hotspots remaining. The main region of this complex area of fires burnt over 6.5 million hectares (although this is not continuous, somewhat spotty in regions).

The fires in the Gulf regions of NT, earlier reported (several weeks ago) as flaring up, are also seen in the image. Two large areas of fire are seen in the image. The first is 100-200 km south of Ngukurr in the SE Top End, which has affected about 2.5 to 3 million ha of land. The second is about 200 km NNW of Camooweal, on the QLD-NT border. It has affected about 1 million ha. Both fires show recent hotspot activity at this time, although not as intense as before. The NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards site presented a MODIS “721” image of the fires here.

Several other large regions of hotspots are noted in SW NT, west of Katherine and through out Arnhem Land.

The Kimberley region of WA, particularly the western portion, also show some large contiguous areas of hotspots. These fires have been burning for quite some time. Elsewhere, a large reward was offered for information on the deliberately lit fires near Kununurra which took more than a week to control.

In the Pilbara, several somewhat isolated areas of fire are noted south of Port Hedland. Further inland, about 100 km SE of Telfer Mining Centre, an area of hotspots encompassing ~200 000 ha is seen.

In the forested regions of SW WA, several hotspots are seen. Unclear what the source of these are, but controlled fuel reduction burns are a likely scenario. Further east, in the broad vicinity of Laverton, WA, a large “ring” of hotspots is seen.

Northern Queensland has also been quite active. Several large areas of fire are noted in the vicinity of Aurukun, along the west coast of the Peninsula. NAFI suggests that this is currently several smaller separate areas/fires, each about 10-50 thousand hectares in size. A large area is also apparent north of Cooktown, although NAFI again suggests that this is several smaller areas which appear merged on the large-scale image. News reports noted fires threatening property were also noted near Cairns and Townsville.

Further south, in south-east QLD, scattered hotspots are seen over a wide area. Fires threatening property were reported near the Gold Coast, in north Brisbane and near Noosa.

This broad region of scattered hotspots extends down into NSW, particularly in the forested areas. These fires are not reported as major incidents, and many may not have even been attended, as suggested by the lack of response (ie. lack of incident names) to some of the more remote fires indicated in this post. Several of the fires noted there (and some that weren't) were also noted in the news, including the Big Badja, a Monaro blaze and the major Mt Kembla fire.

Numerous hotspots are seen in Tasmania, with over 15 bushfires reported in this news article. These fires are due to the so-called October bump, a small (and relatively short lived) rise in fire danger which is typically observed this time of year in TAS. Usually, it decreases again before the onset of the major summer season. This year, many fire are particularly noted in the far SE corner of the state.

Finally, a few widespread hotspots are noted in VIC. These are likely prescribed burns.

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