MODIS image of Australia fires
Image 1


Bush fires surrounding New South Wales continue to burn feverishly, and vast smoke plumes ascend from the southeastern coastline of Australia and extend out over the Tasman Sea. This true-color image from NASA's Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was made from data collected on January 2, 2002; active fires detected by MODIS are marked with red dots (lower-resolution image) or boxes (higher-resolution images).

The southern end of New South Wales's urban area is bounded by the third cluster of fires up from the bottom of the image, and the fires encircle the city, which stands out in tan against the surrounding green vegetation. New South Wales is surrounded by several National Parks, many of which have been damaged by the fires. Reports indicate that the fires, which have been aided by daytime temperatures hovering around 100°F and winds blowing at nearly 40 miles per hour, have burned approximately 1.24 million acres of bush land as of January 2. Currently firefighters' efforts have shifted from attempting to extinguish the fires to preventing them from reaching the western edges of New South Wales. Many of the fires are believed to have been set by arsonists, and police have arrested 21 people in connection with the devastating blazes.

Image courtesy of the MODIS Land Rapid Response System (
Click here for a low resolution version of Image 1.
Click here for a medium resolution version of Image 1.
Click here for a high resolution version of Image 1.

New South Wales Fires from SeaWiFS on January 4, 2002

Image of Australia fires from SeaWiFS on Jan. 4, 2002

Image 2

Click here for animation of smoke.
Click here for a zoom-in animation of the smoke.

More than a million acres of Australian bushland has been destroyed by the eighty fires that continue to burn in and around New South Wales. The flames have raged for almost two weeks and no relief is expected until at least next week.

NASA's Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) caught this image on January 4, 2002 of the wildfires around the New South Wales region. Smoke from the fires billows over 800 kilometers across the Tasman Sea.

Seaside vacation communities and the Blue Mountain area continue to burn, while fires in New South Wales's northern suburb have been contained. Over 150 homes have been destroyed.

Images from January 2, 2002

New South Wales fires

up close image of smoke at New South Wales, Australia

Image 3
Click here for animation of smoke.

Image 4
Click here for second animation of smoke.

High resolution of Image 2 available by clicking here (16 MB)
High resolution of Image 3 available by clicking here. (16 MB)
High resolution of Image 4 available by clicking here. (16 MB)

Author: Lynn Jenner