Almost 2,000 homes have been burned to rubble as fires take their cataclysmic toll across Australia. Since September, at least 25 people have lost their lives and upwards of half a billion animals have perished as a result of the worst wildfires in Australia’s human history. Officials say the blaze could last for yet another month as the situation refuses to ease.
Now a NASA satellite image has shown not only how bad the fire is, but the smoke too which billows over much of the southeast of the Oceanic country.
Smoke and fumes, which appear as a tan colour in the image, ravage the coast all the way from Wollongong to Bairnsdale, 297 miles (478 kilometres) away.
Even the white clouds in the image – which are typically naturally forming – could be a result of the fires, according to NASA.
The space agency said: “Forecasters predicted extreme fire conditions in southeastern Australia for the weekend of January 4–5, 2020, and they were correct in their assessment.
Smoke and fumes, which appear as a tan colour in the image, ravage the coast all the way from Wollongong to Bairnsdale
Australia fires satellite images: NASA shows blaze and smoke engulfing Australia
“The natural-colour image above was acquired on January 4, 2020, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
“Smoke has a tan colour, while clouds are bright white. It is likely that some of the white patches above the smoke are pyrocumulonimbus clouds—clouds created by the convection and heat rising from a fire.”
One expert has warned that the worst could be yet to come for Australia.
Summer has only just began for Australia, and the scorching heat is yet to peak, with it typically doing so around the beginning of February.
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Almost 2,000 homes have been burned to rubble as fires take their cataclysmic toll across Australia
When even hotter temperatures arrive, the wildfires could become even worse.
Neville Nicholls, professor emeritus of the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University, Australia, believes the fires will pave the way for worst conditions.
In an article for the Conversation, Prof Nicholls wrote: “We are still a month away from the riskiest time for heatwaves in southern Australia.
“We’ve already had some severe heatwaves this summer. However they usually peak in the middle and end of summer, so the worst may be yet to come.
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“We are still a month away from the riskiest time for heatwaves in southern Australia”
“Global warming is already lengthening the fire season and making heatwaves more intense, more frequent, and longer. It is also increasing the likelihood of heavy rains, and making droughts worse.
“We must keep adapting to these changing threats, and further improve our ability to forecast them. And the community must stay aware of the many weather and climate extremes that threaten lives and property.
“The flood risk is exacerbated by the bare soil and lack of vegetation caused by drought, and by bushfires that destroy forest and grassland.
“Further south, drought-breaking rains can also be heavy and widespread, leading to increased flood risk.
“So even when the drought breaks and rains quell the fires, there will likely still be bouts of extreme weather, and high demand for emergency services.”