After the smoke has cleared: 2011 fire in central Australia

After the smoke has cleared: 2011 fire in central Australia Journal Article

Range Management Newsletter

  • Author(s): Bastin, GN, Allan, GE
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: Australian Rangeland Society
  • Volume: 12

Abstract: Last November, one of us (Grant) reported to an Alice Springs audience on fire activity and emerging lessons in central Australia during the latter part of 2011. That talk was part of the 2011 Rangeland Journal Lecture Series and is available to Australian Rangeland Society members (along with those of other guest lecturers) through the Society’s web site. The fire threat has now eased, at least for the time being, and ACRIS can now report regional fire activity during 2011 in central Australia relative to other rangeland regions and to previous years. For those not familiar with ACRIS, it is the Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System. Thematic biophysical and socio-economic data and information about change in the rangelands can be found at our web site, Data source: Fires are monitored using satellite data. Two web sites are commonly accessed for current fire activity: the North Australian Fire Information, NAFI ( and Sentinel ( After the smoke has cleared, fire scars are mapped to determine burnt area, return time or frequency of fire, and other spatial statistics related to burnt area. The WA Land Information Authority (Landgate) has mapped fire scars across Australia on a monthly basis since 1997. Landgate uses data generated by the NOAA AVHRR series of satellites which has a pixel resolution of 1.1 km x 1.1 km. These large pixels are suitable for mapping extensive fire but are less sensitive where fires are small or the burn is patchy. The AVHRR-sourced data are well suited to the rangelands-wide reporting that ACRIS undertakes. Wildfire follows big rains: This is an obvious statement for most of the northern savannas, with fires returning each year during the dry season. Wildfire is more episodic in the arid zone but is related to successive years of above-average rainfall. The rainfall and burnt-area maps in Figure 1 show remarkably close spatial coupling between two-year antecedent rainfall and fire extent for the two most recent big wildfire events in central Australia.

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Bastin, GN, Allan, GE, 2012, After the smoke has cleared: 2011 fire in central Australia, Volume:12, Journal Article, viewed 13 June 2024,

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