Smoke Down Under
January 29, 2003
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Norman Kuring
The above SeaWiFS image, taken from the OrbView-2 satellite on January 19, shows Australia on its side and gives an indication of the extent of the smoke emanating from destructive wildfires tearing across southeastern Australia. This smoke, which is more yellow and gray than the clouds, was being drawn eastward by a low pressure system, visible to the south (left). The bright circular spot in the ocean to the east of Australia, at the lower right quadrant of the image (near the Island of New Caledonia), isn't smoke but rather sunglint, sunlight reflecting off the sea surface. Note that much of the continent is cloud free. Building heat and very little water vapor helped set the stage for these dangerous conflagrations.