Australia heatwave

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Exceptional Australian Heat Wave.

In this image, red areas are hotter than normal, and blue areas are colder. Credit: NASA

This image was created using data from NASA’s Terra satellite. It shows surface temperatures—as opposed to the air temperatures given in weather reports—for the end of January, which of course is in the midst of southern hemisphere summer. The highest air temperature recorded in this heat wave so far is 119°F (48°C).

The death toll from wildfires now stands at over 170. Thousands more have lost everything. Some of the fires have been set by arsonists. Remember those who are suffering.

Grace and Peace

5 thoughts on “Australia heatwave

  1. WebMonk

    I would have said that Australia is having something of a cold-wave (aside from the fires, obviously). Just a very quick eyeballing looks like there’s more of Australia that is colder than normal than there is warmer than normal.

    The most interesting part (to me, anyway) is how the fires might be affecting the weather there – widespread fires would send up a lot of temporarily suspended particles in the air which would reflect heat coming in from the sun, but it would also provide an impressively efficient blanket to trap all the heat from the fires down nearer to the ground.

    Any idea if this was taken with satellites or ground-based measurements? I could see the method of measurement being pretty heavily displayed there. Stations that are cut off by the fires might be unread and blended over.


  2. geochristian


    Thanks for your comment. The northern part of Australia has been experiencing heavy rains while the south has been burning. There have been news reports of crocodiles invading towns in flooded areas of the north.

    The data was collected by NASA’s Terra satellite using an infrared detector (MODIS) that can measure ground temperature, among other things. It really has been hot in southern Australia, even in areas where there are no fires. In other words, the fires are due to the hot and dry conditions, not the hot and dry conditions being due to the fires.


  3. WebMonk

    I would love to know how they subtract out the signal of the fires when generating temperature readings. I imagine there must be some way of doing it, but it seems close to impossible – how to figure out the “unaffected” temperature a thousand acres of flaming ground cover and its affect on thousands of acres around it.

    I’m ok with math and statistics, but that’s WAY beyond my skills to even approach the problem. I suspect that the range of error is pretty large. But then, I also might be overestimating the extent of the fires. Sure, a million acres is a lot, but compared to the whole area of Australia, those areas are still pretty tiny.


  4. geochristian

    Even if a fire burns tens of thousands of acres, the active fire itself is a pinprick on a map of this scale. Earth Observatory commonly has images showing the extent of wildfires, such as here.


  5. fox8virus2_fm1

    good day to everyone,
    mom / sir,
    why even in the Philippines are suffering in too much
    heat waves for the past 4 months.[Feb.–May, 2010,
    for the past 2 years it won’t happened this kind
    of Atmospheric temperature.
    it is true that this is the effects of strong
    Solar wind?.
    God Bless…


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