08 September 2009

North Australia update

The image represents a MODIS composite of three of the subset files (Australia1, 2 and 3) from the NASA Rapid Response site. These are at 2km pixel size and captured from the Aqua satellite. Also shown are the hotspots detected during the overpass. It works out that the local time when the satellite passes overhead is roughly between 1330 and 1430, early afternoon. The image presents a relatively clear view of northern Australia and encapsulates the fire situation quite nicely.

In particular, that situation is one of relative quiet, certainly compared to this period two years ago. The areas currently burning remain small at this time, but the potential for many of these to expand to a larger, more significant wildfire remains. In any case, most of these fires remain well away from populated areas.

Combining higher resolution views of these composites (see the subset page) along with NAFI website suggests that many of these fires have started within the last week, if not the the last couple of days.

A quick summary of areas of interest. Numbers correspond to those on the image.

1. The fires in the Kimberley have just recently started. Both of the most apparent hotspots (west and NE of the number) have good clouds of smoke, suggesting a hot, well burning fire. Fire dangers are forecast to be 'high' across the region, the middle category.

2. This fire located ~130 km SE of Katherine has been burning for a few days. Dimly visible under the clouds is a thin plume of smoke. Its eastern and western extents are in part blocked by fire which burnt in August, whether deliberate or not is unknown (to me). A fire ban has been issued for the 9th just to the west of this area.

3. This fire in the Gulf Country of QLD has been going for a few days. It had a very striking appearance on the '721' imagery (not shown, sorry) with the spectral signal of open flame apparent, a very hot fire. It looks to have flared up today, with warm temperatures and moderate winds.

4. Judging from the bright smoke plumes, these fires on the Cape York Peninsula are going well. At this time of year, the number and intensity of the bushfires pictured are is fairly typical for the area and the time of year (as are those in Arnhem Land across the Gulf...)

5. Further south along the QLD coast, between Cairns and Townsville, some small but significant wildfires are apparent in the imagery. This is the area where homes were threatened several nights ago and again today. Fire weather danger remains significant, but not overwhelmingly so.

No comments: