Australia's wildfires visible from space
Jan. 9, 2013
As the Australian Outback burns, NASA imagery captures a view of climate change.
DailyClimate.org staff report
The face of climate change comes in many shapes these days: A roller coaster sitting in the surf, post-Hurricane Sandy. A farmer tilling in a drought-stressed crop, for a total loss.
The latest image comes from space, via NASA: the largely uninhabited Outback of Western Australia at night, lit up like Europe by scores of wildfires.
The composite image, NASA notes, was generated from a series of satellite images taken over 22 days in April and October 2012. The fires were not all burning at once.
The image also shows the artificial light from Australia's major cities: Perth on the west coast, lower left, Adelaide and Melbourne on the south coast, Sydney and Brisbane on the east.
But Australia is burning. The Australia Associated Press reports that some 140 fires burning on the continent this week have torched 128 homes and 345,000 hectares, or 1,350 square miles, an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Officials peg the damage so far at $60 million.
And Reuters reports that a severe heat wave is contributing to fire conditions similar to those of 2009, when "Black Fire" wildfires tore through Victoria state, killing 173 and causing $4.4 billion in damage.
For it's part, NASA notes that wildfires aren't the only feature lighting up the globe's uninhabited portions these days. In the United States, in empty North Dakota, gas flaring from the Bakken Formation oil fields is just as visible from space – offering up, one might say, yet another face of climate change.
The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering climate change. Contact editor Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at] dailyclimate.org
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