Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 5:20 EDT
Fires in Northwest Australia
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Fires in Northwest Australia

February 21, 2013
Scattered fires in Australia’s northern Western Australia state and Northern Territories send smoke streaming off in the northwestward-blowing wind. The smoke plumes appear as streaks of gray moving away from the fires, which are marked in red. In the lower center of the image, right on the border between the two states, sits man-made Lake Argyle, the largest freshwater body in the Southern Hemisphere. The lake was created in the early 1970s as part of the Ord River Irrigation Project, which was designed to transform the area around the Ord River into a highly productive agricultural oasis. To the north of Lake Argyle is the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, which shows clouds of tan and green in its waters. The majority of these clouds are caused by sediment and silt from rivers emptying into the Gulf, though they may also indicate the presence of microscopic marine life. Similar clouds appear off the coast of the Northern Territories (upper right) between the mainland and Melville Island in the Van Diemen Gulf, as well as off the coast of Western Australia. Beyond the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf is the Timor Sea, and in the upper left corner of the image is the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean. This true-color Aqua MODIS image was acquired on April 24, 2003. The high-resolution image provided above is 500 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution of 250 meters. Credit: Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC