Saturday, January 11, 2014

NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day

2013 turned out to be Australia’s hottest year on record. Fittingly, the calendar year both started and ended with intense heat waves. The most recent heat wave peaked between December 27, 2013, and January 4, 2014. It was much shorter than the one that began 2013, though it was more intense. Nearly 9 percent of Australia’s cities and towns experienced record-breaking temperatures between January 1–4, 2014.

The heat baked the earth, raising land surface temperatures (LSTs) that are monitored by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Dark red dominates this image, indicating temperatures that were significantly higher than average between December 27 and January 3, especially in Queensland and New South Wales. LSTs reflect how warm the ground would be to the touch, a measurement related to but not the same as air temperatures.