Suomi NPP Sees A Huge Fire in Australia’s Northern Territory

By Keith Cowing
June 18, 2019
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Suomi NPP Sees A Huge Fire in Australia’s Northern Territory
Fire in Australia's Northern Territory

An extremely large fire was seen in a Suomi NPP satellite image in the Northern Territory of Australia on June 14, 2019.
The actively burning areas are outlined in red and are accompanied by plumes of smoke coming from the affected area. The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Services did not designate this area as a bushfire on their current incident map. It may be that this bushfire has not been added to the map yet or it is possible that this is a prescribed fire set by firefighters.

Prescribed fires are fires that are deliberately set by fire officials for a whole host of reasons. There are ecosystems that actually require fires for further growth. After many years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy. Trees become stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time can bring significant positive changes to the area including reducing hazardous fuels, removing unwanted species that threaten the ecosystem, minimize the spread of pests and disease, and improve the habitat for threatened and endangered species to name a few benefits. Both fires set deliberately and even some wildfires that are left to burn out naturally benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future.

At present the origin of the fire is not known.

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks “right now.” NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite collected this natural-color image using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument on June 14, 2019. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Caption by Lynn Jenner

Suomi NPP is managed by NASA and NOAA.

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