June 21, 2022 - Fires in Australia


On June 17, 2022, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of multiple red hot spots scattered across the northern section of Northern Territory, Australia.

Each hot spot marks an area that the thermal bands on the instrument detected high temperatures. When combined with typical smoke, as in this image, such hot spots mark actively burning fire. While it’s not possible to determine the cause of a fire from satellite imagery, given the time of year and widespread nature of the fires, it’s a good bet that most of these are prescribed burns. Prescribed burns are deliberately planned, ignited, and managed in a particular area in the landscape, with the goat to reduce fine fuel hazards, manage native vegetation, and protect biodiversity in strategic areas, such as parks and reserves.

On June 10, the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services published a media release explaining that “the 2022 Top End fire season is fast approaching, with extensive mitigation burning underway across the Northern Territory’s Top End to reduce bushfire risk”. Bushfires can occur at any time in Australia, but the peak season in northern Australia is in the dry season, which is winter and spring (June through November).

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 6/17/2022
Resolutions: 1km (71.7 KB), 500m (262.6 KB), 250m (905.7 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC