Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba

GOME-2 observes Australian fires

7 February 2009 00:00 UTC

Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba
Fires in brushland or scrubland. Credit: georgeburba

On 7 February, the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2) instrument on Metop-A, observed the smoke plume of the Australian wildfires.

Last Updated

04 May 2023

Published on

06 February 2009

by Piet Stammes (KNMI ) and Ruediger Lang (EUMETSAT)

The death toll from the wildfires in south-eastern Australia passed 200, the largest number of casualties due to a natural disaster in the country in 110 years.

The GOME-2 instrument measured the amount of smoke particles as well as the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emitted by the fires (see NO2 total column product , source: KNMI/IASB). The amount of smoke particles is estimated by a so-called Absorbing Aerosol Index, which is a relative quantity with respect to the clear-sky situation. The amount of NO2 is measured in numbers of molecules in a column above one square centimetre of the surface.

The figure below shows the huge smoke plume produced by the fires on 7 February extending 2,500 km and reaching over southern New Zealand. During the following days, the plume spread further northwards. The NO2 plume had vanished by then because of the relatively short lifetime of NO2 in the atmosphere.


GOME-2 Absorbing Aerosol Index Product

Metop-A, GOME-2, 7 February 2009
Absorbing Aerosol Index (AAI)
Full Resolution (source: KNMI)

Related Content

GOME-2 NO2 total column product 7 Feb 2009 (source: KNMI/IASB)
GOME-2 AAI product 8 Feb 2009 (source: KNMI)
The exceptional January-February 2009 heatwave in south-eastern Australia
(BOM, 2009, Special Climate Statement 17)