Large bushfires in southeastern Australia

January 16th, 2014 |

MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel (left) and 3.75 µm shortwave IR (right) images [click to play animation]

MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel (left) and 3.75 µm shortwave IR (right) images [click to play animation]

An extended period of hot, dry weather led to the development of multiple large bushfires across parts of southeastern Australia, some of which began to produce pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds during the 15-16 January 2014 period. McIDAS images of MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel and 3.75 µm shortwave IR channel data (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 animation) showed the development of a well-defined pyroCb associated with the Northern Grampions fire in the state of Victoria. After the visible images on the left panels faded to black during the night-time hours, the shortwave IR images on the right panels showed that many of the fire “hot spots” (denoted by the darker black pixels) continued to grow during the night.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm longwave IR channel images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 animation) indicated that cloud-top IR brightness temperatures associated with the rapidly-growing pyroCb cloud became as cold as -38.7º C (lighter green color enhancement) at 07:32 UTC. Other areas of cold-topped thunderstorms developed near the coast, likely initiated by sea breeze and/or local terrain influences. Surface reports ploted on the IR images revealed very hot temperatures: for example, it was 109º F (42.8º C) at Melbourne Essondon (station identifier YMEN) at 04 UTC.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm longwave IR images [click to play animation]

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm longwave IR images [click to play animation]

A larger-scale view of MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel images (below, visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server) showed that there were some large bushfires to the northwest that were producing long, dense smoke plumes which were drifting southward off the coast.

MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

MTSAT-2 0.68 µm visible channel images [click to play animation] 

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