Satel­lite images before and after wild­fires show the dev­as­tat­ing con­trast of the ele­ments. There is no doubt that last year’s “Black Sum­mer” in Aus­tralia was absolute­ly dev­as­tat­ing. Fires across the coun­try have destroyed 186,000 square kilo­me­ters of for­est, killing 34 peo­ple and affect­ing bil­lions of ani­mals. But the final results of the fire are espe­cial­ly fright­en­ing.

Australia after the fires

Entry relat­ed to loca­tion: Aus­tralia

Aus­tralian aer­i­al analy­sis com­pa­ny Geospa­tial Intel­li­gence has been work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of New South Wales (NSW) to get before and after images of the con­ti­nent, and the images are hor­ren­dous.

consequences of fires

Large areas that were once green and pros­per­ous regions around Aus­trali­a’s hottest zones now look bar­ren. The pic­tures were tak­en dur­ing 2019, before the wild­fire sea­son, and the sec­ond series was tak­en just after the wild­fires in ear­ly 2020.

Such pho­tographs pro­vide gov­ern­ments with impor­tant infor­ma­tion about the land­scape, pro­vid­ing data on fire scars, veg­e­ta­tion lev­els, and dam­age to prop­er­ty and infra­struc­ture. Sci­en­tists say that for­est fires can be ben­e­fi­cial, but when a dis­as­ter occurs on such a scale, this is not the case.

australia from satellite

The dif­fer­ence in images com­pared to some­thing like Google Maps is the res­o­lu­tion. The Sen­tinel satel­lites often used by Google have a res­o­lu­tion of about 30–250 meters per pix­el, while some of the Geospa­tial satel­lites can have a res­o­lu­tion of 1.5 meters per pix­el. This allows you to ana­lyze images with very fine detail and changes in veg­e­ta­tion.

Although Aus­trali­a’s bush­fire sea­son this year has been less dev­as­tat­ing than last year’s dis­as­ter, such emer­gen­cies will occur more and more in our lives as the plan­et con­tin­ues to warm.

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Clear­ly, Aus­tralia isn’t the only place see­ing increas­ing­ly dev­as­tat­ing fires: Cal­i­for­ni­a’s fires are cur­rent­ly out of con­trol, while the Arc­tic, Ama­zon, Siberia, and Cen­tral Asia are also fac­ing seri­ous fires of their own.