3D visualization of the Australian smoke plumes. Image: NASA.

When analysing wildfires and their impacts, remote sensing instruments provide frequent, broad coverage at minimal incremental cost and at no risk, compared with traditional in situ monitoring. Over the past 20 years, the research community has developed tools and techniques to capture key aspects of fire behavior and impacts, with data from spaceborne instruments such as the Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR).

The NASA Disasters Program, in cooperation with the Active Aerosol Plume-height (AAP) project, has developed the first-ever interactive 3D map of MISR fire plume-height... read more

Publishing Date: 03/02/2020
Screenshot of the Australian Monitoring System web portal

The Australian Flammability Monitoring System is a new vegetation condition and flammability online mapping tool that is expected to support fire and land managers in Australia.

The mapping tool uses satellite data to collect information on moisture content in highly flammable vegetation such as fallen bark, leaf litter and grass. It then displays this information on an interactive map, which will help fire managers in determining burning efforts and preparing of firefighting resources.

A team of researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) developed the monitoring tool - the first web-based system of its kind in Australia - as part of the Mapping bushfire hazards and... read more

Publishing Date: 20/09/2018
Image courtesy of NASA
A powerful cyclone has hit the north-eastern coast of Australia. It made landfall in Queensland on 28 March 2017. With winds up to 263km/h, it was first assessed as a category 4 storm, and then it was downgraded to category 2 when moving inland. On 29 March, the authorities warned that a 1,300 kilometer stretch of the north-eastern coast is at dangerous risk of flooding. The International Charter was activated on 29 March 2017 by Geoscience Australia on behalf of the Emergency Management Australia. According to the BBC, more than 25,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes. Authorities say they will be able to assess the extent of damages... read more
Publishing Date: 30/03/2017
Storm in Australia 2015.  Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory

On 26 September 2016 the International Charter Space and Major Disasters was activated due to floods in Australia. The request for activation was due to heavy rainfall throughout the month of September causing flash flooding along the Lachlan River in Australia.

The flooding at Forbes is one of the worst over the last twenty years in this area and is expected to worsen over the next week as more rain is forecast.

The activation of the Charter was requested by Geoscience Australia, which has also been nominated as Project Manager. 

According to ABC News Australia, the State Emergency Service in New South Wales has received more than 2300 requests for assistance from people in low-lying areas. More information... read more

Publishing Date: 05/10/2016
Satellite image of blazing bushfires in Victoria, Australia (Source: NASA)

Geoscience Australia is working on a real-time satellite system for bushfire monitoring that would send images to emergency services and the Australian public every 10 minutes, a spectacular increase in frequency as these captures are currently available every six hours. The programme, called “Sentinel”, is part of the National Emergency Management Projects (NEMP), funded by the Federal Government, and it should be... read more

Publishing Date: 12/08/2015
The Global Risk Map shows information on countries highly exposed to natural hazards

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) launched a new natural disaster management instrument at the Global Insurance Forum in New York, the Global Risk Map. This interactive map shows the social and economic impact of cyclones, floods, earthquakes and related disasters during the past 115 years.

It focuses on areas that are most susceptible to be affected by disasters, taking into account their social conditions and resilience as well as insurance... read more

Publishing Date: 25/06/2015
Great Barrier Reef in Australia seen from space (Image: USGS/ESA)

An agreement has been signed between the Australian CSIRO research institute and the European Space Agency (ESA) which will allow Australia to get access to European satellite data, while ESA would benefit from Australia’s research expertise during joint projects on space technology and applications.

ESA and Australia have been collaborating on Earth observation for many years, including the development of tools, calibration and... read more

Publishing Date: 18/06/2015
Vegetation in savannas and shrublands helps to offset global deforestation (Image: CT Cooper)

A recent satellite-based study published in Nature Climate Change shows the world is becoming greener despite the high deforestation of some regions.

The researchers have found that a new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia, together with recovered forests outside the tropics, is helping to balance the ongoing deforestation in areas such as South America and Southeast Asia.

The research has been developed using a new technique called “passive microwave remote sensing”. It allows to... read more

Publishing Date: 01/04/2015
Satellite-based imagery will detect blue-green algae blooms

A new satellite-based early detection project for blue-green algae identification was initiated in Australia.

This new algae detection scheme, valued at $1.3 million, will be developed over a period of two years and results from the cooperative effort between the New South Wales government and the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The program will use optical remote sensing techniques to identify algal blooms with the primary goal of decreasing the harmful impact of blooms on human health, the environment and regional economies.

The added value of the project is the... read more

Publishing Date: 04/11/2014
Recommended Practices on Flood Mapping.

When using Space technologies for disaster risk management and emergency response, it is not only important to have access to the right data and software, it is also crucial to be aware of methods that have proven to be good practices in... read more

Publishing Date: 01/09/2014
The web application allows users to overlay different geospatial datasets

The federal government of Australia has launched the National Map, an online platform visualizing a number of the data sets released by the government.

This online map of Australia allows users to overlay geospatial datasets. It is a collaborative effort between the Department of Communications, National ICT Australia (NICTA) and Geoscience Australia, and includes data sets released by the government under the open data policy, including from the Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Bureau of Meteorology data, and data sets from The datasets include terrain, vegetation, utilities, infrastructure, water, habitation and boundaries and data broadband quality and... read more

Publishing Date: 10/07/2014
satellite image of cyclone Eta at its strongest

International Charter: Space and Major Disasters was activated on 11 April. Geoscience Australia requested the activation because of the expected Cyclone Ita. 

The Cyclone caused flooding in the Solomon Islands, as UN-SPIDER reported, on its way to Australia. The forecast was for it to bring powerful winds and heavy rain also to the Australian coast. More than 30,000 residents of the Coast cities have been evacuate in advance.

As the Storm hit the coast, it was moving with winds at roughly 140 km/h, causing a lot of damages that are still to be assessed. At its strongest, the Cyclone winds reached 232 km\h, category 4 out of 5 possible.

Publishing Date: 16/04/2014
satellite night image of fires in Australia

The summer heat in Australia brought high temperatures as well as strong winds to an already dry environment and created conditions for big fires. By yesterday almost 200,000 hectares had burned. The massive Snowy River Complex fire alone lights up an area of the size of Melbourne.

The Suomi NPP satellite Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) took images of three fires – the Snowy River Complex fire, the Mickleham-Kilmore fire, and the Morwell Hernes Oak fire. The three are producing great amounts of smoke that spreads all the way to New Zealand and is even visible in the night photos.

... read more

Publishing Date: 13/02/2014
The bushfire in Grampians National Park burned 43,000 hectares (106,000 acres)

This image of intense bushfires in and around Grampians National Park in western Victoria, Australia, was captured from Space on 17 January by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Australia has been suffering a great heat wave for the last couple of weeks which caused wildfires in several states. The fires burned 43,000 hectares in the Grampians National Park in western Australia.

Publishing Date: 22/01/2014
NASA's Terra satellite image of flooded communities in Australia

New South Wales State Emergency Services (NSW SES) launched a new mapping system to help emergency responders coordinate better rescue operations. It allows volunteers on the ground to instantly share real-time information.

The system was first used in 2013 during floods when 20,000 people were isolated. According to NSW State Emergency Service GIS Manager Elliot Simmons the maps were used successfully on site and the project is now extended to 229 units throughout the State.

With previous systems, emergency responders had to be online and connected to the NSW SES network to receive geospatial... read more

Publishing Date: 09/01/2014
A 7.1 level earthquake was recreated during the event

While recreating a 7.1 level earthquake, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) members demonstrated the potential of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in emergency... read more

Publishing Date: 26/08/2013
Australia’s Northern Territory has suffered several fires

Smoke plumes from fires, volcanoes, and pollution are all reaching high into the atmosphere and can therefore very easily be detected from space. Most recently, Astronaut Karen Nyberg shot a photograph of fires around Darwin and Melville Island, Australia, on August 5, 2013, while looking west across the Timor Sea from the International Space Station (ISS). She also took a photo looking straight down on the fires.

According to Australian fire researcher Peter Jacklyn, fire researchers mostly rely on nadir, or straight-down, satellite views of fires because the images can be overlaid on traditional maps for the sake of studying... read more

Publishing Date: 22/08/2013

The University of Melbourne, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and NICTA today jointly announced that they are collaborating to develop the Australia Disaster Management Platform (ADMP), a next generation open standards-based IT platform aimed at improving disaster management, protecting communities and potentially saving lives.

Over the past decade alone, the world has experienced a deluge of natural and man-made disasters impacting millions and costing trillions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage. In response, researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the... read more

Publishing Date: 16/03/2013
large bush fires burning in southwestern Victoria on February 18, 2013

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image showing large bush fires burning in southwestern Victoria on February 18, 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Winds blew a long plume of smoke south toward the Bass Strait.

About 300 firefighters using dozens of vehicles and 14 aircraft were battling the fires, which were burning near Grampians National Park. Lightning ignited a number of fires about a week ago; two of them merged to create the large fire shown here. Authorities estimated that it... read more

Publishing Date: 22/02/2013

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image showing the large bush fires burning in eastern New South Wales, Australia, on 9 January 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.

Temperatures cooled somewhat in New South Wales on January 9, 2013, a day after record-breaking temperatures seared Australia’s most populous state on back-to-back days. Despite the reprieve, bush fires continued to rage throughout New South Wales and many other parts of the continent.

Extreme heat and strong winds have fueled the fires. Statistics released by Australia’s Bureau of ... read more

Publishing Date: 10/01/2013

A new map of the Earth at night that NASA published two weeks ago showed the footprint of human civilization on the planet, as revealed by the lights we use to brighten the darkness. The map was built by Earth Observatory designers together with colleagues at the National Geophysical Data Center and made possible by a new NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite. But it turns out the map showed something more. Astute readers noticed lights in areas that were thought to be uninhabited. Many of those readers pointed to Western Australia and asked: How can there be so... read more

Publishing Date: 20/12/2012

Australia became an international collaborator on the new US-satellite mission Landsat 8, under an agreement signed on 12 July 2012 with the United States Geological Survey. Landsat 8, the latest in the series of Landsat satellites, is expected to launch in January 2013. It will continue almost forty years of operation of the Landsat series of land observing satellites, part of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, which is the longest continuous record of the Earth’s surface as seen from space. “This agreement is vital to ensuring the nation’s future satellite imagery requirements are met, and confirms Australia’s commitment to working with the United States to deliver civilian uses of space,” the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said. “When launched, the satellite will provide... read more

Publishing Date: 16/07/2012

The insurance industry is recognising GIS as a powerful tool that will drive comprehensive business transformation.

An international geospatial expert Simon Thompson has been meeting Australia’s top insurers as the industry faces widespread reform following two years of severe flooding that has inundated large parts of the country and exposed extensive underinsurance and poor risk assessment processes.

"Layering detailed flood and engineering models over residential or commercial property data enables insurers to more accurately and efficiently understand their portfolios and deliver better products and services to their customers."

Mr Thompson said the spatial industry has traditionally been more focused on technology instead of information sharing, but this is now changing... read more

Publishing Date: 26/03/2012

Tropical Cyclone Iggy is now a memory in southwestern Australia but it made its presence known when it made landfall on Australia's Sunset coast on February 2, 2012. NASA's TRMM satellite provided measurements of rainfall rates as it headed toward landfall and noticed heavy rain was falling in some coastal areas. Sunset Coast is the section of the coastline in Western Australia that encompasses the northern area of Perth, according to the Tourism Western Australia. Perth is the capital city of Western Australia.

On February 2, 2012 at 1044 UTC (5:44 a.m. EST) the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite saw weakening Tropical Storm Iggy as it was approaching the coast of southwestern... read more

Publishing Date: 06/02/2012

Water minister Peter Walsh said the $12.1 million Floodzoom tool will be built to improve communications to communities that are situated in areas that flood.

“It will give emergency services a more accurate prediction of flood behaviour and help individual land holders assess their own flood risk,” the minister said.

Floodzoom will be built to use weather forecast models, satellite observations, river gauges and hydrological modelling to improve warnings and emergency... read more

Publishing Date: 04/05/2011


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