Devastating Australian Bushfires as Seen From Space

By Tom Yulsman | February 10, 2014 11:53 am
Australian bushfires

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of bushfires blazing in the Australian state of Victoria today. (Source: NASA)

Bushfires are continuing to rage across parts of Australia’s state of Victoria today despite the arrival of milder conditions.

You can see them in the image above from NASA’s Aqua satellite. Massive plumes of smoke stream from fires burning in the eastern part of the state, as well as just north of the city of Melbourne. Red dots mark spots where the satellite sensor detected fire.

Here’s a closeup false-color view of the Melbourne area:

Australian Bushfires Near Melbourne

A false color view of the Melbourne area from NASA’s Terra satellite highlights burned areas in rusty tones. (Source: NASA)

The false-color scheme shows burned ground in rust-colored tones, and active burning in orange colors. A large burn area (whose shape looks a little like a flame) is clearly visible just to the north of Melbourne, which sits on the northern shore of Port Phillip Bay.

Agence France Presse is reporting that more than 30 homes have been destroyed. And according to the Australian newspaper The Age, nine separate instances of arson are suspected in at least some of the fires.

The region has been experiencing hot and windy conditions that have raised the fire risk in Victoria to its highest level since 2009, when fires killed 173 people. From The Age:

The furnace-like conditions of the weekend – which saw the mercury soar past 40 degrees – eased on Monday but warm temperatures and no chance of rain left the state hanging in a precarious balance with the Country Fire Authority issuing high to very high fire danger ratings.

The hot conditions didn’t begin this weekend. In mid-January, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology noted that extreme heatwave conditions were present in southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

I’ll be watching how this develops, so stay tuned.

  • Zim2001

    Fascinating, who knew that entities of mass destruction could be so beautiful?

  • Elle

    Land planning is a great way to prevent the hazards of bushfire. With efficient bushfire hazard determination, appropriate recommendations are given to resolve the problem. Environmental assessment reports conducted by environmental consultants can help deliver bushfire hazard assessments and management plans



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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