Firestorm Seen From Space

23 January 2003

Satellite image of the bushfires in Canberra. © Geoscience Australia.

Satellite image of
the bushfires in Canberra
© Geoscience Australia

Smoke billowing from the fires that ravaged through Namadgi National Park and into the south-western suburbs of Canberra on 18 January 2003 can be clearly seen in this MODIS satellite image. The smoke appears as a pale green veil, extending south-east from the lower-central part of the image.

Geoscience Australia acquired this image at approximately 11:00 am (AEST) on 19 January 2003. The geographical extent is from central-western NSW in the top left corner to Bass Strait in the lower right corner. Port Phillip Bay can be seen in the lower left of the image.

The Barmah Forest, a very significant area of remnant natural vegetation can be seen in the centre of the left side of the image.

South of the ACT fires, extensive plumes of smoke generated from major bushfires in the Alpine country of north-eastern Victoria and Southern NSW can also be seen sweeping across the east coast.

MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is the key instrument aboard the satellites Terra (EOS AM-1), and Aqua (EOS PM-1) and views almost the entire surface of the Earth every day. MODIS imagery such as this plays a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change.

The AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) sensors collect global data on a daily basis for a variety of land, ocean, and atmospheric applications. Specific applications include forest fire detection, vegetation analysis, weather analysis and forecasting, climate research and prediction, global sea surface temperature measurements, ocean dynamics research and search and rescue.

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