As the rainy season ends, the grasslands and tropical savannas of northern Australia dry out, creating conditions ripe for fire. As the dry season, which runs from May until October, progresses, vegetation becomes little more than standing tinder – even a spark can ignite devastating fires.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on October 10, 2012 as it passed over the region. Dozens of fires can be seen burning across the Cape York Peninsula, many accompanied by large plumes of smoke which is blown to the west. Strong winds help fuel wildfires, and can rapidly drive flames into areas full of fresh fuel.