Fires Scorch Northern Australia

Extreme dry conditions have led to major fires in north central Australia the past year. In February, fires along the coast caused extensive damage and loss of life.

More recently, dry conditions sparked many fires in the Tanami Desert region further inland. The Tanami Desert region is the least populated region of Australia and covers an area approximately the size of Texas and Iowa combined. The desert sand ridges and sand plains have limited vegetation, largely short grasses and shrubs.

Landsat satellite imagery shows a small area of the north central desert on September 7, 2011, and again on September 23, 2011. Grass fires moved quickly through the region and destroyed much of the surface vegetation. The dark areas shown on both images are fire scars (in the September 7 image the fires scars are from previous burns), and in the September 23 image, the scar from an active fire can be seen. On the northern and eastern edges of the scar, fires continue to burn.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011