NASA image: Fires in Western Australia

Apr 30, 2013
In Western Australia, the wet season occurs between December and March and the dry season between May and October. The reversals of prevailing winds in the two season drives the shift from wet to dry and back. Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland and Lynn Jenner

In Western Australia, the wet season occurs between December and March and the dry season between May and October. The reversals of prevailing winds in the two season drives the shift from wet to dry and back.

In April and May, fires usually burn themselves out within a few days due to the fact that even though there are dry spots that may catch fire, the wet area around them will keep the fires from burning out of control. The worst time for fire is late in the dry season, when vegetation has dried to tinder and blazes tend to be uncontrollable, intense, and dangerous.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer () on 's Aqua satellite acquired this image of dozens of fires in both and the Northern Territory on April 28, 2013.

Although smoke plumes are visible, MODIS actually detects the fires by sensing thermal infrared energy radiating from the . The heat is invisible in images like this, but the locations where MODIS detected fire are labeled with red outlines.

Prescribed burns in this area are part of a program managed by the Australian government and by conservation groups. The Ecofire effort, ongoing since 2007, has the goal of reducing destructive late-season out of control fires by increasing the number of early-season fires. The early fires tend to burn in a patchwork pattern that makes it easier for vegetation to reestablish itself afterwards.

As traditional lifestyles have been replaced by modern ways of living, the number of early season fires has decreased and the number of destructive, later fires has increased. The intent of Ecofire is to return the landscape to a burning regime that mirrors what happened in the past. For tens of thousands of years, aboriginal people in the region engaged in a practice known as "-stick farming." People intentionally lit fires in the early-season to encourage the growth of and to make it easier to locate and track animals for hunting.

Explore further: Image: Fires in Australia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Fires in Australia

Apr 18, 2013

In the Kimberley region of Western Australia, there are two distinct seasons: a wet season between December and March and a dry season between May and October. Reversals in the direction of prevailing winds ...

NASA image: Fires in eastern Russia

Apr 30, 2013

Even as the snow begins to retreat in the eastern part of Russia, fires are being set to clear the land for planting. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aqua satellite ...

Image: Fires in Central America

Apr 12, 2013

On April 11, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Mexico and Central America, and acquired this true-color image of dozens of fires burning ...

Image: Fires in the Yucatan Peninsula

Apr 11, 2013

Dozens of red hot spots cluster at the tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. To the south, fires also speckle the neck of the Yucatan, Guatemala, and Belize. Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an ...

Image: Fires in Nepal

Apr 15, 2013

Agricultural fires are set all over the world at different times to prepare the soil for the planting of new crops.

Image: Fires in Victoria, Australia

Apr 11, 2013

There are a number of fires burning in Victoria, Australia and smoke and heat signatures were captured from them by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

13 hours ago

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...