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Eastern Australia
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Eastern Australia

July 15, 2011
This true-color image of eastern Australia was captured on a clear winter afternoon in mid-July, 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Aqua satellite acquired this image on July 10, 2011 at 03:40 UTC (1:40 p.m. EST).

Wintertime in eastern Australia is also the dry season, where relatively little rain falls, and the landscape becomes a study in various shades of tans as grasslands brown and arid regions become even drier. Although Queensland, the territory to the north, suffered a soaking summer, the winter landscape is evidence of current dry conditions. Conditions are similar in New South Wales, found in the south of the image.

Much of the forestland remains green, including the forests that grow on the Great Dividing Range, which stretches more than 3,500 km (2,175 miles) along the eastern coastline from Queensland, through New South Wales, ending in the western plains of Victoria. The sharp rise between coastal lowlands and the eastern mountains affects the country's climate, primarily due to orthographic precipitation. The low coastal areas receive more rainfall than inland, and retain their green color.

Several red hotspots are scattered over the region. Several of the hotspots are accompanied by gray smoke plumes, which indicate fire. A cluster of hotspots near the coast gives rise to a heavy bank of smoke which blows northeast over the Coral Sea.

Brushfires are common in Australia, and are most common during the dry season. The extremely wet summer caused lush growth of vegetation, which has turned into a very large fuel load, which will likely become tinder-dry through the winter. In regions of high fire risk, prescribed burns are being utilized to decrease the risk uncontrolled bushfire later. Some of the fires in this image have likely been set as fire management tools.


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