KEY POINTS

  • NASA captured the destruction of the Australian bushfires from space
  • Satellite image shows several active fires in the region
  • Local authorities are expecting the bushfire conditions to worsen

NASA’s latest satellite image shows the devastation of the ongoing bushfires in Australia from space. According to the agency, the area affected by the fires is now bigger than the state of Connecticut.

The image provided by NASA was taken by the Suomi NPP satellite, which the agency operates with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the image, a thick blanket of smoke can be seen covering large portions of land as active fires continue to rage on. These active fires have been marked with red dots in the satellite image.

According to Australian authorities, over 90 fires are still burning in various parts of New South Wales. Most of these areas were extremely dry due to drought conditions. Due to the ongoing fires, NASA noted that the entire area affected by the disaster is now bigger than Connecticut.

“The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is reporting 96 fires are burning and to date the size of the area burned is 1.5 times the size of the state of Connecticut (approximately 5.3 million acres of land),” NASA said in a statement. “These fires are largely the result of an atypical drought for the area, increasing temperatures, and low humidity.”

NASA warned that the thick shroud of smog covering Sydney is carrying chemicals and particles that came from the incomplete burning of materials that contain carbon. Some of the chemicals that can be found in the smoke include sulfur dioxide, aldehydes, acid gases, nitrogen oxides and dioxins.

Due to the health hazards posed by the inhalation of these chemicals, NASA strongly advised residents of Australia to minimize their exposure to the smog.  

Currently, almost 2,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle the ongoing fires in New South Wales. According to The Guardian, a total of 724 homes, 1,582 outbuildings and 49 facilities have already been destroyed by the fires in the region. Aside from these six people have already died due to the disaster.

As Australia braces for hotter temperatures and heatwave conditions, local agencies are expecting the number of properties and people affected by the bushfires to increase over the next couple of weeks.

Australian Fires NOAA-NASA's Suomi NPP satellite flew over the New South Wales fires in Australia on December 16, 2019 and found devastation from the ongoing fires. Photo: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)