15 November 2007

New central NT fires

Over the past week or so, a new round of large fires has cropped up in central portions of NT. Some imagery showing the time evolution of some of these fires is shown below. These images are cut from the NASA MODIS subsets on the day indicated. The pixel size is 1 km, and the image is 500 x 325 pixels. The area extracted is identical in each image.

In the western portions of the territory, about 70 km NW of Lajamanu, a rapidly burning fire is underway. Reviewing MODIS imagery suggests this fire started on 11 November, when a few isolated hotspots were seen. On the 12th, the Terra satellite passed over at 0145 UTC (1115 local time) with only a few hotspots detected. By the time of the Aqua overpass approximately 3 hours later, the fire had undergone a massive expansion. The NAFI map and imagery from earlier today suggested continued expansion towards the SW and on the northern portions. The total are affected to date is about 180 000 ha. Conditions today were not as severe as past days, although fire danger ratings were generally in the high to very high category.

More centrally located, to the north of Elliott and west of Daly Waters, two broad areas of fire are noted in the current image, a large L-shaped one to the east and a smaller area to the west. The eastern area was initially two separate fires which have since merged their burnt areas. This duo of fires was initially detected on 7 Nov, as well as an additional one south of the duo, closer to Elliott. The image from that day shows some prominent smoke plumes streaming off to the west. particularly the northernmost one. The fire closer to Elliott also shows a plume, but it went out over the next day.

The western most was initially spotted on the 8th. By the 9th, this fire had become well established. Areas of the three fires on the 9th were: eastern – 26 000 ha; central – 100 000 ha; eastern – 70 000 ha.

On the 11th, the two western areas began to merge and moved toward the north, creating the L shape. This tendency continued on the 12th, with the northern extent of the L and the western fire showing distinct smoke plumes. On the 13th, the region was covered by clouds in one image and out of the satellite swath in the other. The image from the 14th is partially obscured by clouds, expecially the western fire. Hence, its status is not clear, although there are a few detected hotspots in the vicinity. It's affected area is roughly 140 000 ha. The eastern 'L' fire continues to burn along a long eastern flank. It's total affected area is on the order of 400 000+ ha.

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