20 October 2009

Northern Australia and more

The image (click to enlarge) shows the whole of Australia (sorry, TAS!) on 19 October 2009. The image is a composite of three MODIS images from successive overpasses of the Aqua, each at roughly 1300-1500 LT at the time the satellite is overhead. The hotspots indicate numerous areas of fire across the nation, particularly in the north.

The upper hand has been gained over much of the fire activity recently seen in QLD and northern NSW. High temperatures have moderated and afternoon humidity is not quite as low thanks to moderate easterly (onshore) winds. The widespread cumulus field extending inland shows this quite nicely. This has allowed fire fighters in NSW to gain control over most of the fires there. A few isolated hotspots are visible along the northern coast.

While many of the fires burning in QLD are now contained, the situation still remains dangerous. The Mt Archer fire near Rockhampton is still threatening homes and keeping residents on high alert. While the weather has moderated, fire bans remain in effect for much of the state through to next week.

The Top End region of the NT remains quite active. Numerous fires are visible throughout Arnhem Land. A particularly active cluster of hotspots, with a thick smoke plume, is noted in the southwestern Top End, west of Port Keats. Further south from there several large fires are also visible; these fires haven't been burning for a great length of time but have quite prominent fire scars in their wake. Breezy afternoon easterly winds, low RH and hot temperatures (upper-30s) have driven very high to extreme fire dangers across the area.

Much of the Kimberley region of northwestern WA remains quite active also. While the threat to the outskirts of Broome has receded, the fires have continued to burn in the area. Most of these are new fires, not continuations of those noted previously. The same is true in the northern part of the Kimberley; five or six large clusters of hotspots are burning. The fires further south, in the Great Sandy Desert also continue to burn. As in the NT, the air has been quite dry with moderate easterly winds.

For the eagle-eyed, some signs of activity are visible in the southern part of the country. A commercial orchard has been reported as destroyed in southwestern WA. The NASA Earth Observatory image of the day noted some thick smoke plumes in this area on the 16th. Looking back at the subsets, smoke is visible back until at least the 13th...A few hotspots and perhaps a thin smoke plume is visible today. Most likely these would be some sort of prescribed burning activity. Another prescribed burn is visible along the NSW/VIC border in the Moira Lake area. Another (likely) prescribed fire can also been seen in SA in Billiat Conservation Park, with hotspots and a thin plume of smoke.

No comments: