Fires Across Northeast Australia
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Fires Across Northeast Australia

September 19, 2011
Bushfires continued to blaze across northeastern Australia on September 15, 2011, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite passed overhead and captured this true-color image. Clusters of fires are evident in the Northern Territory (left side of image) as well as Queensland (right side).

Bushfires are a natural hazard across Australia in the cool, dry winter season. According to the Brisbane Times, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned of a “challenging” fire season due to the higher fire risk caused by the vegetation growth during the “big wet” of the past summer. The vegetation has dried during the winter, and as temperatures rise as spring approaches, so does the risk of bushfire.

The most common reason for fire across this region is human activity, including accidental ignitions, arson or for management of land for agricultural purposes. Fire, in the form of controlled burns, is also a strong management tool used to try to limit the damage brushfires can do, by reducing fuel loads in critical areas. More than 350 planned burns have been carried out so far this year, covering 400,000 hectares of land. Some of the fires captured in this image are likely controlled burns, but most are brushfires.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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