Satellite imagery reveals scars of bushfire

04 February 2003

Geoscience Australia acquired satellite images over south-eastern NSW in the period before and immediately after the firestorm that ravaged through Namadgi National Park in NSW and into the south-western suburbs of Canberra on January 18.

Geoscience Australia acquired three Landsat ETM+ images at approximately 11:00 am (AEST) on 7 November 2002, 10 January 2003 and 26 January 2003.

These remarkable images show land cover across the ACT and southern NSW, and offer a stark contrast. Vast areas of healthy vegetation in the November 7 image appear in the last image as burnt out, these areas consuming much of the ACT and Kosciuszko area. Scarring from the December 2002 bushfires at Mittagong, approximately 80km southwest of Sydney, is also evident.

Plumes of smoke in southern NSW appear in the January 10 image - their small extent providing no indication of the devastation they would cause in the following weeks.

Ian Shepherd, from Geoscience Australia explains, "Satellite imagery is a useful tool in managing fires and their effects. In the lead-up to the fire season, images are used to assess fuel loads and plan access points and fire breaks." He continues, "After fire events, satellite images are also useful in assessing damage and mapping the extent of fire scars."

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