15 January 2008

Australian Bushfire Activity: 1-10 Jan 2008

Below is the latest 10-day hotspot composite from the NASA Rapid Response Global fire mapping page. The dates of the composite are 1-10 January.

As noted in the previous national synopsis, fire activity as a whole is declining across Australa. The fire season for much of the north is over; the southern season is ongoing now, bit fires are more sporadic than noted in previous updates. Further, a significant portion of Australia has seen above-average rain totals over the past few months, particularly in December; the long-delayed effects of the ongoing La Nina.

Despite this, there are hotspots and fires on the maps, some of which have had serious consequences. Away from the deep monsoonal tropics of the Top End and Cape York Peninsula, some fire activity continues in the north. A large bushfire was observed in the Great Sandy Desert of WA, as well several smaller fires in the Pilbara region of the state. Many of these fires were driven by the extreme heat with temperatures in excess of 45 C over much of the region.

Further south in WA, the Goldfields fire west of Kalgoorlie raged through much of this period, with the highway only re-opening on 9 January. As of 14 January, the fire was decalred safe. In addition to claiming three lives, the fire has cost an estimated tens of millions dollars to fight.

On the 9th, lightning triggered fires in Fitzgerald River National Park near Hopetoun in southern WA. A MODIS image of the fire is also available. These fires continue to burn, having escaped containment lines in the past few days. Several blazes were also noted in the Perth suburb of Parkerville, which destroyed several houses. These fires were the result of power lines coming into contact with an overgrown tree. Another highway in southern WA was also cut off due to fires about 80 km from Hyden.

The southeastern portion of the country also saw severe fire weather conditions, with several days during this time reaching 40+ degrees across VIC. On he 2nd, multiple fires in East Gippsland were started. A man was killed when a bulldozer rolled over him while constructing firebreaks. These fire remained relatively small in size. A bushfure was also reported near Mt. Hotham . A ~400 ha fire threatened homes near Ballarat and several fires were also reported in Wimmera Mallee. In SW VIC, a fire near Portland burned 100 ha of scrub.

Tasmania has also seen significant fire activity during this period. Many of the fires here have beeen deliberately lit. Several suspcious fires were observed in NW Tassie but these were easily contained. More problematic were several fires reported near Geeveston, in the southern part of the state. Several Hobart suburbs were also threatened by bushfires.

In eastern NSW and QLD, widely scattered hotspots are seen, small-scales fires or false alarms. Abundant precipitation over much of this region has limited any fire activity.

No comments: