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Preview: Australia Bushfire Monitor

Australia Bushfire Monitor



A compilation of electronic resources related to Australian bushfires



Updated: 2018-04-20T19:37:03.266+10:00

 



West coast WA

2010-02-28T11:29:14.046+11:00

Several fires noted along the western coast of WA yesterday afternoon as extreme heat was observed across the area.

(image) The image is from the afternoon of 27 Feb 2010, captured by the MODIS instrument onboard the Aqua satellite. The region covered extends from Shark Bay in the northwest of the state to just south of the Perth metropolitan area (P), roughly 600 km in north-south extent. Hotspots are marked, but a little difficult to see

The FESA website provides the latest updates.

In the north, two area of hotspots are noted in the vicinity of Kalbarri National Park (K). FESA reports that these fires have resulted in a partial closure of the Northwest Highway and are estimate to have burned more than 5000 ha as of yesterday afternoon. The smoke plume is fairly dark and the hotspots look to be associated with some small pyrocumulus convection.

Further south, near the Arrowsmith (A) area, a hotspots and thin smoke plume is apparent. Not much information is available on this fire.

Most serious are fires further to the south in the Lancelin area, near Wedge Island. The smoke plume here is quite thick and readily apparent on the image. Several sources of smoke are apparent. This fire has burnt 4200 ha and has been burning since the afternoon of the 26th. Wildfire activity was reported in this vicinity in early January also.

The FESA website also suggests a few fires burning in the vicinity of Perth yesterday, although these are not readily apparent in the MODIS imagery.

Weather-wise, conditions across WA have been brutal. Temperatures were in low to mid-40s in this area of the state, with relative humidities generally below 20% (and lower) with moderate winds -- dangerous fire weather condition. Fire weather conditions are expected to remain dangerous for the next several days.
(image)



Southern WA

2010-02-18T22:07:40.511+11:00

Several large bushfires are burning in southern WA. The region of fire activity is shown in the Aqua MODIS image from the afternoon of 18 February 2010

(image) The large area of activity is approximately 50 km to the east of Salmon Gums (SG) in the shire of Esperance. On the image, this fire has a quite extensive area of smoke and pyrocumulus (the white) The fire is burning out of control, but is not threatening private property at this time. The fire started as two separate incidents earlier on the week, which have since merged into one event. Approximately 41 000 ha have burnt to date. Smoke from this fire can be seen southward to the coast east of Esperance (E).

Another large area of fire is seen to the NE of the Salmon Gums fire. I believe this is being reported as the Dundas Nature Reserve fire. (Dundas is at the D). This fire is burning in remote country and has burnt over 80 000 ha to date. A large area of hotspots and a broad area of dark smoke are visible in the image.

Fire weather conditions across the area are quite bad. High temperatures this afternoon were in the low-40s with RH near 10% and moderate winds. These conditions are expected to persist at least through tomorrow...
(image)



Central TAS

2010-02-02T21:53:04.624+11:00

Widespread fire activity across TAS this evening, although no real threat to 'property' is present at this time. Two fires which have burnt in excess of 3000 ha (each) remain uncontolled according to the Tasmania Fire Service.

(image) The true-colour MODIS image captures the view from the Aqua satellite around 1500 LT on 2 February. The two large fires noted above a clearly visible, producing widespread thick smoke plumes. A smaller plume is also visible in a break on the cloud edge.

The southern-most region of smoke is from the Wayatinah fire, which was first reporteon 31 Jan 2010. It has burnt 3400 ha to date. The northern plume is from a fire near Lake Mackintosh. This fire is believed to have started in mid-January from a lightning strike. It has burnt 3000 ha to date. More genertally around TAS, particularly off the west coast is smoke from previous days fire activity.

Weatherwise, conditions haven;t been too outrageous. Temperatures over the last few days in the upper-20s and low-30s. But the winds have remained moderate and RH is not too low. After and wet winter and spring, rainfall in the state has remained below normal. Things are drying out and fire season is coming into full swing in the state. Conditions in the area are forecast to be similar for the next day or two, so the threat will remain.
(image)



Northern TAS 2

2010-01-07T23:04:05.285+11:00

The York Town fire in northern TAS has continued since first noted earlier in the week. Since that time, it has nearly doubled in size to about 2500 ha burnt. The fire is currently contained, after escaping containment lines yesterday. No homes are under threat at this time, although residents should be alert. See the TAS fire service link on the sidebar for the latest info.

This Aqua MODIS image captured the fire around 1620 LT this afternoon (7 Jan). This image is the same region as three days ago, but a slightly wider view. It's also a bit blurry as it is on the edge of the swath, but a quite extensive smoke plume is seen trailing towards the south. The plume extends south past Launceston. This image is a bit later in the day than normally seen, which could account for some of the larger extent as well...

Weather conditions were similar to what was noted a few days ago as well. Not too hot, moderate winds...Again, a good portion of the ferocity of this fire is driven by the likely high fuel load. Tasmania and much of the SE should expect higher temperatures and increased fire danger over the next 3-4 days. Monday looks to be the worst in many areas...This is the same weather system that brought catastrophic fire weather conditions to southwest WA earlier in the week.
(image)



Southwest WA 3

2010-01-05T22:10:54.134+11:00

Bushfires continued to threaten homes and 'property' in southwest WA today.

A large fire in Moore River National Park which began yesterday afternoon threaten the communities of Lancelin, Ocean Farms and Seaview Park today. The threat has eased for the moment. The fire is visible on today's MODIS imagery, but does not have a striking appearance on the imagery, no smoke plumes are apparent, but the burn scar is visible on the 721 image. The fire has burnt nearly 5700 ha and is currently contained.

Other fires were noted this afternoon near Gidgegannup and Wanneroo, on the eastern and northeastern fringes of Perth. Both of these fires have been contained as of this evening.

The fire near Brigadoon noted yesterday has been contained, but is not under control. Approximately 200 ha have been burnt.

As expected, fire weather conditions in the region were quite dangerous today, with temperatures near 40oC and low RH. Winds were generally near 15-20 km/h, but gusty. The forecast for tomorrow (6 Jan) suggests that coastal areas in the region may see some slight relief, but fire weather conditions elsewhere in the Southwest Land Division of WA will be quite dangerous, with catastrophic conditions expected in some inland areas. Temperatures are predicted to reach the low-to mid 40s with fresh gusty winds in the more inland areas.
(image)



Southwest WA quickie

2010-01-04T22:09:23.135+11:00

A small but dangerous fire near the town of Brigadoon (on the outskirts of Perth) on 3 Jan has come perilously close to destroying homes. Four firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

This fire has burnt about 100 ha and is currently not directly threatening 'property', but remains out of control and generally threatening. Temperatures near 40C, along with fresh and gusty winds are again expected in the area on the 5th.
(image)



Northern TAS

2010-01-04T21:44:38.020+11:00

A serious fire is burning in northern TAS tonight in a state forest near Asbestos Road in the vicinity of York Town. The fire remains out of control at this time. No houses are under threat at this time, but may in the near future. The fire started on 2 Jan, and flared to near its current size of 500 ha on the 3rd. Today, firefighters were forced to retreat for safety's sake due to the fierce spotting.

The image, captured from the Aqua satellite overpass around 1530 LT on the 4th shows a dense smoke plume moving toward the ESE along with a significant area of hotspots. The smoke is directly affecting Beaconsfield (B) and residents in Launceston (L), about 30 km away, are also being affected.

Compared to typical dangerous fire weather conditions on the mainland, the weather is relatively mild. High temperatures were only near 20 C and RH was quite high. Sustained NW winds around 25 km/h with higher gusts are largely driving the fire. This lower threshold of dangerous fire weather in TAS is typical, and probably related to higher fuel loads in the forests found on the island. Forests burn more easily on the island. Conditions will likely worsen with hotter weather and a continuation of the wind expected on the 5th.

(image)



Toodyay, WA plus

2009-12-30T23:46:14.623+11:00

Still mostly in holiday mode here, but a few of items of note...

1. At least 37 homes have been destroyed in a bushfire, apparently ignited by a fallen power pole.in Toodyay, WA, approximately 80 km northeast of Perth. The fire started around noon yesterday (29 Dec) and has burnt over 2900 ha. Nearby observations suggest that fire weather conditions were 'catastrophic', with max temperatures in the low 40s, RH below 10% and 40 km/h sustained winds. Cloudy conditions prevented a satellite view of the fire.

2. Just before Xmas saw a significant bushfire near Pt Lincoln, SA. 13 homes and a State Emergency Service base amongst other things were destroyed in the 650 ha blaze. Hot (43C), dry windy conditions prevailed.

3. The rise and fall of TC Laurence has proceeded mostly in line with the general scenario outlined around 2 weeks ago...Lingered in the Pilbara before striking an eastward path across the country, culminating in a large rain event in NSW. The storm made three (I think) landfalls and the subsequent re-intensifications reached category 5 on two occasions. Significant rain in the Pilbara, across northern SA and into NSW. Northeastern NSW in particular saw a good deal of precipitation, although 50+ mm were widespread in the eastern part of the state.

This rain should dampen the fire danger in those areas for at least a week or two anyway. In the north, maybe enough to end the season? More rain in the near future would help this a reality...Northern SA saw a wet Spring, particularly November. These normally arid regions could see a 'green up' in the coming seasons, potential fuel for next year's bushfire season.
(image)



Southern NSW

2009-12-19T00:20:14.274+11:00

As briefly noted earlier, nine houses were destroyed in 3 separate fires in southern NSW on 17 December, on a highly dangerous fire weather day. However, a cool change has brought relief to much of NSW; while numerous fires remain burning, the immediate threat has subsided.

The image, is from the 18 Dec 2009 Aqua satellite overpass with a false-colour '721' enhancement, which captures (among other things...) vegetation differences and effectively highlights burn scars on the land. These appear as reddish, brownish blotches and represent the fire's path and the area it burned.

About 30km north of Albany (A) is the Gerogery fire; 4 houses and 5200 ha burnt. In the centre of the image is the Tooma fire scar, where 2 houses and over 10 000 ha were burnt. These two fires are under control. Furthest east is the Michelago scar, 40-50 km from Canberra (C); three houses and 9000 ha burnt there. This fire is being controlled but is no longer threatening 'property'.
(image)



Southeast Australia

2009-12-18T07:56:39.665+11:00

Parts of southeastern Australia saw a a second consecutive day of dangerous fire weather conditions, with several destructive bushfires reported in the region. Most destructive was a fire in Gerogery (north of Albury) that destroyed four homes among other things. Other large fires were reported near Tooma in southern NSW, to the south of Canberra and in northwestern areas of Greater Sydney. In East Gippsland, a fire near Cann River started yesterday and expanded rapidly during the day.

This last fire is the most apparent in the image, a Terra satellite from 1120 LT, the morning of 17 Dec. The Cann River fire has a sharp dense smoke plume streaming off towards the southeast. The other fires noted above are not apparently detectable in the image. The locations of Canberra (C) and Albury (A) are noted. At the time of the later Aqua image, more likely to show the fires, the region is generally obscured by cloud...Careful examination shows a few plumes are visible, mixed in with the clouds.

Fire weather conditions across this region were quite dangerous today; It was hot and dry, with afternoon temperatures in the mid-upper 30s and very low relative humidity. Strong and gusty NW winds as well. Catastrophic fire dangers were forecast in southern NSW; conditions indicate that this was likely met. A strong cool change and associated rainband is moderating conditions this evening, which should allow firefighters to bring these fires under control.
**
A nice summary of the recent fire activity in rural NSW and its impact on farmers can be found at the link.

UPDATE: Nine homes destroyed in these bushfires  -- 4 in Gerogery; two in Tooma and three in Michelago (south of Canberra).

(image)



The little storm that could

2009-12-15T23:39:10.213+11:00

That would be TC Laurence, currently menacing the Kimberley region of WA. It is currently a Category 3 storm, with a central pressure of 975 mb. This same system brought a month's worth of rain to Darwin and strengthened into a full blown TC. It is expected to finally move ashore on the afternoon of the 16 Dec, a big (and surprising!) start to the Wet in the western Top End and the Kimberley.  Atypically, the onset of this Wet is not part of the northern monsoon; winds remain easterly across most of the region.

The image, from Aqua MODIS, shows TC Laurence in its full glory on the afternoon of 15 Dec. A cloud-filled but obvious eye is present as are extensive spiral bands swirling in towards the centre.

Initially not expected to have much more than a short-lived regional impact, this TC could  have a major impact on the seasonal climate across a good portion of the continent. The interest here is the effects on the fire weather and climate. The immediate forecast is for the TC to weaken but linger in NW WA for a while, likely finishing off the fire season in the Pilbara and Kimberley.  After that, the forecast becomes uncertain. It's entirely possible, but by no means guaranteed, that this storm (or it remnants...) will effect central and SE Aust, drifting slowly towards the ESE. One 10-day NWP model forecast (unreliable!!) I saw earlier today predicts a major rain event in NSW (on Xmas eve) as the remnants of the TC were absorbed into the extratropics.

It goes without saying that a major widerspread rain event in eastern Australia would be entirely welcome, and help dampen fire activity in those regions. (Of course, high-based thunderstorms with dry lightning would be a disaster...). 'Enough' rain along the storm's path would also reduce fire dangers for the next few weeks. It could also provide soil moisture for abundant growth (fuel for next season) in affected northern areas.

Cape York and the Gulf regions are unlikely to be directly affected from the storm. They will still likely need monsoon onset for the wet season to begin.
(image)



Southwest WA

2009-12-14T23:04:17.746+11:00

An out-of-control fire was reported earlier today in Southwest WA, near the town of Harvey. While the fire is not directly threatening 'property' or lives. It nonetheless is having an impact in that it 'smoked out' Perth this morning, and remains a chance to do so again on Tuesday morning. The first image, taken from the linked story, shows a spectacualr aerial photo of the smopke over the city.


The second image, from the Aqua satellite around 1500 LT Monday afternoon, shows this fire roughly 130 km to the SSW of Perth (P...my P is on the southern side of Perth, away from the city centre...). At the time of this image, the smoke is not impacting the city, having cleared out with the sea breeze. The Terra image earlier in the day shows the smoke impacting the city more clearly, but the swath edge is inconveniently placed in that one...The smoke plume is quite dense and extend for some distance downstream. It has been suggested that this fire was started by an illegal campfire.

Further south, near Walpole a second set of hotspots and smoke is noted. This fire is a result of an escaped prescribed burn. AS of this evening, it has burned roughly 3000 ha, and is expected to consume near 10 000 ha before it is brought under control.
(image)



Northern NSW 2

2009-12-13T22:44:10.421+11:00

Numerous fires remain burning across NSW, particularly in the northern reaches of the state. No immediate threat to human values is present at this time, but the RFS current incidents page suggests that several fire these fires have burned out areas in excess of 15 000 ha in some cases. Many of these areas have seen fire activity for at least a week.

The image is from the Aqua MODIS instrument shows eastern NSW, from the QLD border in the north to the VIC border in the south. Most striking is the activity in the north, where numerous hotspots and widespread smoke are apparent. Interestingly, the fires noted in the Blue Mountains near Sydney (the 'S') are not apparent from space, nor have they really been in the previous few days. One possible reason is that the fires are in valleys and hence not viewable to the satellite; this occurs regularly in rugged terrain


Fire weather conditions remain dangerous, but not so much that a fire ban has been warranted. In the north, temperatures are in the low to mid-30s and humidity is low, but the relative lack of wind is currently moderating fire dangers. That said, conditions are likely to worsen mid-week, with temperatures near 40C and strong northwesterly winds forecast for a large portion of southeastern Australia.
(image)



Eastern Australia

2009-12-09T23:14:03.729+11:00

Another active fire day throughout the eastern portion of Australia again today, as fires raged from the Cape York Peninsula in far north QLD down into northern and central portions of NSW. The image (click to enlarge), from the Aqua satellite showing much of the eastern coast of Australia, summarizes this activity. Looking back to earlier in the season, the image is surprisingly reminiscent of the situation in September; the long fire season drags on and on...If you look carefully, there is even a dust storm apparent (a faint band in northern NSW...), although not as strong as those noted in September.In the far north, several large fires are noted on Cape York. One home was reported destroyed near Mareeba, just to the west of Cairns, but later reports indicate that it was merely a shed. This fire is actually one of the smaller areas of hotspots on the image. The larger one just to the west of the Mareeba example (presumably in more remote areas, so no reports) have burnt on the order of 200 000+ ha (or more), and just off image is a fire with an even larger area burnt.Extensive fire activity continues in Carnarvon National Park and Expedition National Park and in the state forests in the general area. The second round of these fires have been going for some time now after widespread activity in September.The northeastern region of NSW is also showing widespread activity. There are numerous fires of concern noted on the RFS Current Incidents page...too many to list here. Some of these fires are producing some quite striking smoke plumes when this image was captured. The Tweed Heads fire reported earlier is not particularly noticeable on the image, but was reported as threatening properties earlier in the day. Tragically, one person died when a helicopter being used to map bushfires crashed earlier today in this area as well.The weather conditions were very dangerous again today, particularly in southern QLD and northern NSW, with temperatures in the upper-30s/low-40s and low RH...the winds weren't terribly strong and so moderated the danger to some (small) degree. Fire weather conditions are expected to remain poor tomorrow, and a fire ban is again in effect for much of southern QLD and northern NSW.[...]



Northern NSW

2009-12-07T22:55:05.283+11:00

A few fires burning in northern NSW and southern QLD today. The most serious is reported near Tweed Heads, at the QLD-NSW border. At this time, none of these fires are posing a particular threat to property and other human values, but the situation bears watching; the fire is to be declared an emergency. 600 ha are reported burnt at this time

The true colour MODIS image is from the afternoon Aqua overpass (7dec 2009), around 1500 LT. The image is about 380 x 250 km. The approximate locale of Tweed Heads is marked (TH), the hot spot just to the south is the fire noted above.

On the image, several other regions of hotspot activity are noted in northern NSW and southern QLD. Several areas of hotspots and smoke are noted in state forest areas in NSW. In southern QLD, near the upper left corner,the fire burning there looks to be producing a pyrocumulus cloud.

Much of this area saw dangerous fire weather conditions today, with moderate northerly winds and temperatures in the inland areas in the upper-30s/low-40s. Fire weather conditions are expected to remain poor tomorrow (8 Dec) throughout QLD and NSW with hot, dry conditions and gusty northerly winds ahead of a cool change. Fire bans are in effect for large portions of both of these states.
(image)



Welcome to Summer

2009-12-03T00:54:12.510+11:00

With the beginning of December also comes summer which is peak bushfire season in southern Australia. If it is anything like the spring in terms of weather it will be a bumpy ride.In particular, QLD and NSW have seen unusual levels of fire activity over the spring. In QLD, abundant rainfall the previous two years produced abundant fuel. This year has seen development of an El Nino in the central Pacific and two heat waves of unprecedented magnitude to much of eastern Australia. Extended periods of significant fire activity were seen in much of the east, with the city of Rockhampton being directly threatened. Across the season, northern regions of Australia, including the Top End, Cape York, the Kimberley and such, observed normally high amounts of fire activity. More recently, unusual fire activity has been observed in central NT. Fires continue in this general area.And who can forget not just one, but two large dust storms.The latest extreme heat event has broken, and with it the fire threat has eased temporarily. A few fires linger in NSW and southern QLD, but the break in the weather has allowed firefighters to acquire and maintain control over the most threatening (to human values...) fires. That said, the image, from Aqua MODIS shows northern QLD on 2 Dec 2009. Widespread fire activity is still noted, particularly on the Cape York Peninsula. Conditions are hot and dry; the wet season has yet to start in earnest. But the winds are not particularly strong, so fire dangers remain lower than they otherwise could be. Whatever fuel is present is undoubtedly ready to burn; grass is cured, forests are dry.Historically, the wet season onset is late during El Nino years. Current observations suggest that the active phase of so-called MJO, frequently a trigger of the monsoon in the north, has passed our longitude in the last week or so and hence not expected for a few weeks at least. That suggests that conditions could remain ripe for fire in the north for several more weeks, perhaps even into January in a worst-case. Conditions remain dry throughout the eastern states, meaning any hot, windy day will easily see a rise in fire dangers in those areas. The moderate-strong El Nino historically means a bad fire year for southern and eastern Australia, suggest the need for special caution throughout the upcoming season.[...]



Miscellany

2009-11-25T23:09:07.015+11:00

The bushfire situation across Australia is currently in a relative state of calm, with fire weather conditions having moderated considerably over the past few days. That said, there is a fire ban has been issued for Thursday in NSW west of the ranges.

Much of the fire activity in QLD and NSW reported over the weekend is controlled or being brought under control. A large area of active fire is noted on NAFI in the central NT. This current activity is a continuation of a fire which began last week (the then smaller western ones, in particular). There is light to moderate activity from those fires westward to the Dampier Peninsula...

The image doesn't really have much of anything to do with fire. If you insist, you can see some general smoke in the NW corner (upper left) of the image. Rather, the midday-from-the-Terra-MODIS image shows a spectacular comma cloud spanning the breadth of the continent. For an idea of size, the image is 2000 x 1600 km. In this case, the cloud structure is spawned by a deep cut-off low pressure system in the mid- and upper-troposphere. A beauty only knowable from space.


This system (and its precursors) has brought a significant amount of precipitation to inland western QLD and northeastern SA. It is forecast to bring more rain to parts of the southeast, mainly VIC and SA...little or no relief for NSW.
(image)



As bad as it gets, too

2009-11-24T00:02:16.725+11:00

The dangerous fire weather conditions observed at the end of last week persisted throughout the weekend in NSW. Dangerous conditions peaked on Sunday, as a developing low pressure system over Victoria brought hot westerly winds to the state. The more than100 fires started by lightning on Friday flared, evacuating hospitals and threatening homes, among other things...Firefighters have gained the upper hand on many of these blazes with the arrival of milder weather on Sunday night, but some of these fires remain out of control as of earlier today (23 Nov). That said, with more moderate weather expected for a few days, they will likely be brought under control soon.These conditions extended into southern QLD as well, with a relatively widespread, but significant of grass fire activity noted, particularly on Sunday. Peak temperatures on both days were above 40C in most of northern NSW and southern QLD. On Sunday, these extreme temperatures reached the Sydney region, which saw temperatures in excess of 42 C. Simultaneously, large portions of VIC and SA received a significant amount of rainfall, with over 70 mm in some locales (including Melbourne!). In northern SA (very arid...), rainfall amounts of 3 and 4 times the normal monthly totals were observed.The image (click to enlarge) shows widespread fire activity and numerous smoke plumes extending from wildfires in Carnarvon National Park (west) and Expedition National Park (or various state forests nearby...) on 21 Nov (Sat.). It's scale is roughly 425 x 250 km, so these fires are burning over an extensive area. (See NAFI more more detail) Those with a long memory may recall that this same park saw significant fire activity in September. Parts that didn't burn then are now going. (There have been a lot of clouds about lately, poor conditions for fire images...). These fires are remote, little threat to immediate human values[...]



Almost as bad as it gets

2009-11-20T23:14:08.489+11:00

In terms of fire weather, most of the southeastern portion of Australia has seen conditions that are about as bad as they get over the past few days. The whole month of November has seen unprecedented levels of heat for late spring, but the last few days have been over the top throughout the area. There have been widespread areas with temperatures well in excess of 40 C. These temperatures are approaching or exceeding all-time, not just for spring, record-high maximum temperatures (and record high-minimum temperatures, too). It was 43C in Adelaide on Thursday, and temperatures were in excess of 45C in northern SA and western NSW. See this post for a description of the heat during the earlier part of the month; the third record heat wave in two years in some places. The last few days have been even hotter, but not as long-lived. Another bad day tomorrow in NSW, but afterward the weather should moderate for the next few days at least. Look for a full description of the event, with all the climatological details, in a Special Climate Statement from the National Climate Centre on Monday.Of course, with the extreme weather comes the extreme fire danger. The graphic, from the ABC, shows the regions covered by the new 'catastrophic' fire danger rating (FFDI > 100) today (20 Nov). Conditions were similar yesterday, with a focus further to the west. In many ways, Australia has been fortunate this time around; there have been no Black Saturday-level fire events during this period. No massive loss of life, no city-razing fires. There have been numerous fires started by lightning across SA, southern QLD and NSW; a few homes have been destroyed but overall the damage has been minimal. A nice summation of the fires today can be found in this article from the ABC. The firefighters have done a good job at managing this situation to date.Events of this nature strengthen the evidence for the reality of the impact of climate change. Sure, previous generations saw fire weather events of similar intensity, but not this frequently and not at this strong. Remember, it is not even the nominal start of summer yet. Stick your head and the sand and deny the evidence if you must, but this is our new climate. Yes, climate variability will still exist, and we will see years or perhaps even a decade where conditions moderate, but events of this nature will become more frequent and eventually the norm. Its a record now, but soon enough these conditions are likely to be our average, what we expect every year.If it makes you feel better, tell yourself it's natural...the natural response to the enhanced climate forcing from increased CO2, land degradation and other human factors. We did it and we have to live with it. Are you ready?[...]



Central NT

2009-11-17T23:06:19.495+11:00

As suggested yesterday, there are huge fires currently going in the central portions of the NT, including the Barkly Tablelands. Many of these fires have been burning for several weeks, and have now affected large areas. Fortunately, the fires are in remote areas and unlikely to have a large human impact.

The image is the True Colour image from the Terra overpass on 17 November at 0145 UTC. Numerous fires are readily visible on the image. The large fire scar on the right, with active hotspots, represents the fires in the Barkly Tablelands noted over 10 days ago. Comparing the older image with this one shows how much the fire has grown. Estimate of the affected area over the whole period are easily in excess of 2 million ha. TO get some sense of scale, the distance from Eliottt (E) and Daly Waters (DW) is roughly 150 km. The linear extend of the fire in the north-south direction exceeds that. Katherine (K) is noted at the top of the image.

Looking at NAFI, some of the detected hotspots are likely efforts by firefighters to control the extent of the blaze. Many line up right along highways, likely attempts to establish firebreaks.

Further west, several active fires are noted in the northern Tanami Desert and close to the Victoria River district. region. These fires are quite intense, and much of this region has burnt in just the last two or three days according to the history on NAFI.

Weather conditions are quite hot, even for the place and time of year. Temperatures are in the low-40s, 5 degrees or so above normal. Afternoon relative humidities are around 20% (dewpoints of 10-15 degrees), but the winds are from the NW and not too strong, although some quite gusty obs are noted at some of the stations.
(image)



Eastern Australia and more

2009-11-16T22:13:48.229+11:00

Lots of fire activity reported across Australia today, as generally high temperatures continued to be4 observed across much of the country. This warmth was particularly pronounced in the interior regions of the country; temperatures were in the upper-30s and low-40s across wide areas, in some cases more than 10 degrees C above normal. The SA Riverland region set new records for heat in November.The image shows a composite true colour image of Australia from two Aqua overpasses today. Widespread fire activity is noted in much of eastern Australia, particularly in QLD. Fire activity continues in the Barkly Tableland region of the NT as well.Several blazes were reported as threatening homes in QLD and NSW, including near Gympie in QLD and also in the western suburbs of Sydney.Other fires were reported near Orange in NSW, in the Great Sandy National Park near the Sunshine Coast in QLD and in the Pilbara region of WA. In QLD, fires are also noted (on the image) in Carnarvon National Park (where they have been burning on and off since October...) and throughout the Cape York Peninsula. Fire bans are in effect through next week in much of the state, are may be extended beyond that date.Conditions have slightly moderated in VIC and southern SA for a few days. The Cape Conlan blaze in VIC was contained today. However, the end of the week, particularly Thursday and Friday, are likely to be extreme in terms of fire danger in these most populous parts of the country.[...]



Camooweal QLD

2009-11-11T22:04:58.130+11:00

ABC reports today of a wildfire near Camooweal, near the QLD/NT border, which was brought under control earlier today. It's somewhat rare that these fires in the north directly impact human activity and are reported on in the media...

The story reports that the fire came within 10 km of the main township. It was most active last night and yesterday afternoon and was brought under control this morning. No significant losses were reported, but the fire burnt a considerable amount of grazing land. The fire also closed the highway near the town for a while as well.

The image shows a true colour MODIS view of the fire from the Terra overpass this morning around 1045 LT. The immediate vicinity of Camooweal is visible, just to the WNW of the burn scar. The dimensions of the image are about 200 x 150 km. This was already after it had been brought under control. A few hotspots are still apparent on the image, but the fire is clearly subdued. A very thin, darkly coloured smoke plume is just visible streaming off to the west. The western burnt patch is today's fire. The patch to the east looks to have mainly been active during the previous day or two. Both patches of burnt area together encompass 20 000 to 30 000 ha.


Weather conditions have been fairly typical for the region; most likely high or very high fire danger conditions in the afternoon.
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E Gippsland VIC

2009-11-09T23:38:21.840+11:00

Noting the first significant fire activity in VIC this evening as the season winds up. The fire is burning in Cape Conran Coastal Park between Cape Conran and Bemm River. It has burnt around 1100 ha as of this evening. The fire is Going but no 'property' is currently under threat at this time. [INFO]

(image) The image is the true colour image from the Aqua MODIS, around 1600 LT. The smoke plume is visible, trailing off toward the north with the sea breeze. No hotspot was detected as this is on the very edge of the swath. The image is garish (to me, anyway...) because I have applied 'Auto Adjust Color' to brighten it up. Bairnsdale and Orbost, 60-70 km apart, are marked on the image.

The fire weather conditions across VIC and in the high to very high range. It is much warmer than normal across the region, with maximum temperature anomalies of 8-12+ degrees over most of the area. In Gippsland, temperatures were in the upper-20s. Further west, in Melbourne and Adelaide (very far west!), temperatures have been in the mid-30s. Hot weather is expected to persist through the end of the week. Fortunately, the winds have remained light to moderate, helping to moderate fire dangers.

While the fire danger situation isn't too drastic now; it's hot, but the season is early. Instead, this hot weather is setting the stage for later in the season – drying the land and the forests and curing the grass, creating fuel for later fires.
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Barkly Tablelands NT

2009-11-06T00:25:57.315+11:00

The image shows some several large bushfires burning in the Barklys Tableland, in central NT. The fires here, while burning for a week or so have flared, expanding a great deal in a short amount of time. On the true colour image, the smoke plumes from these fires are quite thick, suggesting vigorous fire activity.Rather than the more typical true colour image, this is a so-called 721 image -- a different combination of channels from the MODIS. Green is vegetation. The recent burns scars are a dark brown colour, the very recent scars or even open fires are the bright red marks. The darker coloured scars are more recent; they get lighter brown to tan to back to green as a time passes, say 1-2 years. These do NOT have the hotspots marked...they show up quite well on their own with the red and pink.The reason for the vigour of the fires is not immediately obvious. Weather conditions are not particularly severe; no fire weather warnings are in effect. More likely, the fires have reached an area of abundantly flammable (or is it flammabley abundant?) vegetation and taken off. There was some rain (and likely lightning activity) 4 or 5 days ago in the area, and this may nave been the igniter or reinforcer of these fires.In general, bushfire has burnt much of the pictured area (about 220 x 390 km). The NAFI fire scars mapper indicates that most of this area burnt during October...looking thru old posts, much of it looks to have been quite recently...Indeed, fuel loads are quite high across the region as a result of abundant precipitation during the past wet season. The strengthening of the El Nino often results in a delayed onset of the wet season across the NT. This means that fire activity could extend further into the year, and perhaps even into January (if fuel is available)...Finally, these fires are burning in a remote area and are of no threat to the usual concerns. The effects will mostly be on the ecology of the region, as well as a source of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.[...]



Rockhampton pix

2009-10-26T23:23:21.051+11:00

Here are a few pictures of the recent Rockhampton bushfires that from a mailing list. The photographer is unknown.




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