Canberra Bushfires

18 January 2003

Location of Canberra, ACT

Location of Canberra, ACT
© GEODATA 2000

Geoscience Australia acquired a number of satellite images that clearly show the effects of the fires that swept through the south-western suburbs of Canberra on 18 January. The two Landsat ETM+ images below were acquired on 7 November 2002 and 26 January 2003 at approximately 11am (AEST). They show the contrast between large areas of healthy vegetation in November and the burn scars caused by the fires in January.

These images show land cover across the Canberra region in pseudo-natural colour (Landsat ETM+ bands 2, 4, 7 are displayed as Blue, Green, Red). The bushfire smoke can be identified as pale blue in colour. Healthy vegetation shows as green and burnt areas show as dark red-brown.

The geographical extent of the images covers Lake George, from the top of the images, to the Victorian border, in the lower left corner.

 
Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 7 November 2002 Healthy vegetation, prior to bushfires, Canberra

Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 7 November 2002
Healthy vegetation, prior to bushfires, Canberra
© Geoscience Australia

 
Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 26 January 2003 Effects of bushfires, Canberra

Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 26 January 2003
Effects of bushfires, Canberra
© Geoscience Australia

 

The image captured on 26 January is available as a free poster from the Geoscience Australia Sales Centre.

 

The two Landsat ETM+ images pictured below were acquired on 10 January 2003 and 17 January 2003.

They show the development of 'minor' fires in the 10 January image (far left) to extensive fire-fronts in the 17 January image. Encouraged by high temperatures and winds, these fires combined and swept through Canberra on 18 January.

Satellite imagery is a very useful tool in managing fires and their effects. In the lead-up to the fire season, images are used to assess fuel loads and to plan access points and fire breaks. Images are also very useful in mapping the extent of fire scars and assessing damage.

 
Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 10 January 2003 'Minor' fires, Canberra

Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 10 January 2003
'Minor ' fires, Canberra
© Geoscience Australia

 
Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 17 January 2003 Extensive fires, Canberra

Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite image, 17 January 2003
Extensive fires, Canberra
© Geoscience Australia

 
Before Canberra Bushfires After Canberra Bushfires

(Before) Canberra and surrounding area during 10 January 2003.
(After) Canberra and surrounding area during 26 January 2003

©
Geoscience Australia

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 30, 2012