Bushfires in Western Australia February 2015
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE a satellite image to show you the big picture.
The bushfires that have been raging for a week in Western Australia’s south-west – declared a state natural disaster – have razed more than 85,000ha, but to see the massive plumes of smoke on the image above, taken 4 February, really gives you a sense of the scale.
The southern-most blaze in the image above, near Northcliffe, shows plumes of pyrocumulus cloud (‘fire clouds’), as the heat from the smoke pushes the air up quickly, much like a normal cumulus cloud. These fire cloud can sometimes even form into thunderstorms in the right conditions.
These clouds can also release a large amount of pollutants from the fires into the upper atmosphere.
Temperatures in WA have been exceedingly hot and dry, fanning the perfect conditions for the massive fires, which were sparked by a lightning strike.