As the worst dust storm in 70 years raged over eastern Australia, wildfires burned throughout Queensland. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite observed the fires on September 24,2009. The top image shows a wider area, including fires burning along the coast. The white outline in the top image delineates the close-up view of the large cluster of fires burning near Tambo, pictured in the bottom image.
In both images, red outlines indicate hotspots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. The smoke near Tambo is especially thick, and it completely blocks the satellite’s view of the land surface below.
According to news reports, the Queensland wildfires burned in the midst of a flurry of natural hazards striking Australia in late September 2009, including small-magnitude earthquakes in Melbourne and hail in New South Wales. Hot conditions and strong winds contributed to fire danger throughout Queensland, and fire crews were battling several major fires between the cities of Brisbane and Townsville.