Bush fires burning in the Sydney, Australia region

October 17th, 2013 |
MTSAT-2 visible channel (left) and shortwave IR channel (right) images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 visible channel (left) and shortwave IR channel (right) images (click to play animation)

Numerous bush fires began to burn in state of New South Wales near Sydney, Australia on 16-17 October 2013. On a comparison of MTSAT-2 visible channel and shortwave IR channel images (above; click image to play animation) some of the southeastward-drifting smoke plumes were evident on the visible images, while numerous fire “hot spots” (dark black pixels) could be seen on the shortwave IR images. Toward the end of the animation (06:32 UTC on 17 October), the hot fire pixels grew in areal coverage as winds increased in association with a cold frontal passage.

A 48-hour plot of surface data for Sydney Airport (below) showed that smoke reduced the surface visibility to 4-5 miles for several hours on 17 October. Prior to the passage of the cold front, surface air temperatures were unseasonably hot (in the middle 90s F), with wind gusts as high as 38 knots. In addition, note the sharp drop in dew point temperature to -2º F at 04 UTC on 17 October.

Plot of Sydney Airport surface meteorolofical data

Plot of Sydney Airport surface meteorolofical data

A 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true color image from the NASA EOSDIS Worldview site (below) offers a closer view of the smoke plumes in the Sydney area.

Aqua MODIS true color image

Aqua MODIS true color image