Astronaut Captures Incredible Images of Australian Bush
Intense wild fires,
or bush fires as they are called in Australia, are burning out of
control across southeast Australia with authorities describing the
condition as “catastrophic.” The huge fires were easily visible from the
International Space Station on Tuesday and onboard, Canadian astronaut
Chris Hadfield has been watching from above.
Lines of scorched earth and huge smoke plumes from wild fires in
Australia were visible from the International Space Station on January
8, 2013. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield
See more of his images below:
Officials say more than 130 fires, many uncontained, are burning in the
heavily populated New South Wales state, where dry conditions are
fueling the fires as temperatures reached 45 degrees and wind gusts reached more than 100 kilometers per hour.
Huge plumes of smoke from bush fires in Australia were visible from
the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Chris Hadfield.
In Tasmania, an island south of Australia, rescue officials are still
trying to locate around 100 residents who have been missing after a fire
tore through a village, destroying dozens of homes. You can see images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s
Terra satellite that were taken on January 7, 2013
at the Earth Observatory website.
Australia battles hundreds of wildfires, fanned by outback
09 January 2013
Australian fire crews battled hundreds of wildfires, a searing
heatwave and powerful, hot outback winds on Tuesday, but we're hopeful
they had dodged a potentially catastrophic fire day without loss of life
or major damage.
Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate homes as fires raged in
southeast Australia, while some had no choice but to seek shelter in
their homes as fires approached. Temperatures soared to more than 45
degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
Fire fighters hope cooler weather sweeping up the Australian east coast
late on Tuesday, which saw temperatures fall 20 degrees Celsius in a
matter of hours in some coastal towns, would ease the incendiary
"It's very much a moveable feast with many fires still being
identified," said New South Wales (NSW) state fire commissioner Shane
Fitzsimmons, warning a respite would not come for some hours and would
last only days before searing heat driven by outback winds returned.
The severe fire conditions replicated those of 2009, when "Black
Saturday" wildfires in Victoria state killed 173 people and caused $4.4
billion worth of damage.
After a week-long heatwave bushfires are ablaze in five of Australia's
six states, with more than 137 fires in the most populous state NSW, and
in forests around the capital Canberra.
Around 100 houses, the majority on the island state of Tasmania, have
been destroyed by bushfires in recent days, and many people are still
missing in fire-ravaged areas.
More than 40 fires raged out of control on Tuesday as thousands of
firefighters and more than 60 water-bombing aircraft battled the blazes,
some suspected of having been lit by arsonists.
Fire officials declared five areas of southern NSW as catastrophic,
meaning if fires ignited they could not be controlled and advised people
"We grabbed the photo albums, suitcases, clothes and jewelry and ended
up getting out while we could," said Hallie Fernandez who runs a bed and
breakfast motel at Brogo in NSW, where an out-of-control bushfire was
In Australia's biggest city Sydney, where the temperature hit 41.8
degrees Celsius, thousands flocked to the city's iconic beaches, while
zookeepers hosed down animals to help them cope with temperatures that
tested national records.
The blistering heat also caused a blaze at a nuclear research facility
in southern Sydney after cabling overheated in a nearby electricity
substation, while thousands of homes in the city's north experienced
power outages due to soaring demand.
In the outback city of Broken Hill, the mercury hit 45.1 Celsius (113
Fahrenheit), while the country's biggest highway between Sydney and
Melbourne was cut by fires that surrounded people in the township of
"The heat has been so intense that tar on the road has been melting and
sticking to my shoes," retired Australian journalist Malcolm Brown said
from central NSW.
The record heatwave forced the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to
extend its extreme temperature limit, adding new pink and purple colors
to forecast maps to allow for temperatures of above 54 degrees Celsius
The bureau is forecasting 54 degrees Celsius in central Australia next
The heatwave, which began in Western Australia on December 27 and lasted
eight days, was the fiercest in more than 80 years in that state and has
spread east across the nation, making it the widest-ranging heatwave in
more than a decade.
Strong wind gusts had created a "dome of heat" covering much of the
island continent, said climate experts.
Australia, the world's driest inhabited continent, is particularly
vulnerable to bushfires, fuelled each summer by extreme heat and by what
scientists say is creeping climate shift blamed for hotter average
Authorities warned earlier in the Australian summer that much of the
country faced extreme fire conditions this season, after several years
of cooler conditions that had aided forest growth, but also created
tinder dry fire fuel conditions.
(Editing by Michael Perry)
Australia on Fire
Since the end of December 2012, hundreds of bushfires have raged
throughout Australia, fueled by a record-breaking heatwave. Some of the
most damaging fires struck Tasmania, a large island off the coast of
Victoria. Blazes that raced through the town of Dunalley on January 4
destroyed more than 100 homes.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s
Terra satellite captured this image (top) showing numerous fires across
the island on January 6, 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where
MODIS detected the unusually warm surface temperatures associated with
Hundreds of uncontrolled fires also burned throughout New South Wales
and Victoria, the two most populous Australian states. Three of the most
intense were the Deans Gap fire, the Yarrabin fire, and the Cobbler Road
fire. On January 9, 2012, the Moderate Resolution Imaging
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image (bottom)
of the three fires.
Extreme heat and strong winds have fueled the spate of fires. According
to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the national average
temperature on January 7 reached 40.3°Celsius (104.6°Fahrenheit),
breaking a record set in 1972. Temperatures were so extreme that
Australian meteorologists were forced to add additional color bands to
their forecasting maps.
Recent Media Reports on Fires in Australia
HEARTBREAK: The forgotten cost of bushfires (published by
www.bordermail.com.au 09 January 2013)
Water bombing not sufficient to fight bushfires (published by
Hopes for no fatalities rise in bushfire search (published by
www.stuff.co.nz 09 January 2013)
Drones could provide superior bushfire predictions in Australia
(published by www.wired.co.uk 08
Money for bushfire research running out (published by
www.smh.com.au 08 January 2013)
Kiwi crews to battle Tasmania bushfires(published by
www.theaustralian.com.au 08 January 2013)
Two Victorian homes destroyed, people hurt
www.theaustralian.com.au 08 January 2013)
Fast-moving fire takes properties in central Victoria as NSW battles 135
blazes (published by
www.theaustralian.com.au 08 January 2013)
Prepare for more scorchers, Gillard warns (published by
www.theage.com.au 08 January 2013)
Stories of survival emerge from Tas inferno (published by
www.abc.net.au 07 January 2013)
NSW firefighter injured near Gundaroo (published by
www.news.com.au 07 January 2013)
Bushfires in Australia leave path of destruction (published by
www.guardian.co.uk 07 January 2013)
Wildfires Force 3,000 From Homes in Australian Heatwave (published by
www.bloomberg.com 07 January 2013)
Conditions ease as Tasmanian crews battle bushfires (published by
www.au.news.yahoo.com 07 January
Nation on alert as bushfires spread, Gillard warns NSW residents to be
vigilant (published by
www.heraldsun.com.au, 07 January 2013)
Boat ride adds to bushfire misery (published by
www.news.com.au, 06 January 2013)
Tasmanian fires raze 80 properties, thousands stranded (published by
www.theaustralian.com.au, 06 January 2013)
Death report as Tas bushfire razes homes (published by
www.news.theage.com.au, 04 January
Victoria Police and Government clash over arson taskforce (published by
www.news.com.au, 03 January 2013)
Bushfire warning as North-West Qld braces for heat (published by
www.au.news.yahoo.com, 03 January 2013)