Climate Change 20121208-004749.jpg

Published on December 8th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Wildfires All Across Australia Visible In New Night Image From Space

Large forest fires are visible in a newly released image from NASA and NOAA, of the Earth at night. The bright regions in the western part of Australia that are largely uninhabited, and the light seen is almost entirely from forest fires.


“Away from the cities, much of the night light observed by the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite in these images comes from wildfires. In the bright areas of western Australia, there are no nearby cities or industrial sites but, scientists have confirmed, there were fires in the area when Suomi NPP made passes over the region. This has been confirmed by other data collected by the satellite.”

“The extent of the night lights in this area is also a function of composite imaging. These new images were assembled from data acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. This means fires and other lighting (such as ships) could have been detected on any one day and integrated into the composite picture, despite being temporary phenomena.”

“Because different areas burned at different times when the satellite passed over, the cumulative result in the composite view gives the appearance of a massive blaze. These fires are temporary features, in contrast to cities which are always there.”


Other than forest fires, some of the light in these regions may be coming from natural gas flaring, fishing boats, lightning, mining and oil drilling.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Image Creduts: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Catherine

    I don’t think there are terribly many fishing boats in the outback.  And I’d say that ships are right out, unless someone finally discovered the Great Inland Sea…

Back to Top ↑