WORLD FROM SPACE Wildfires in Tasmania

In January 2013, intense bushfires blazed in Tasmania, an island south of Australia. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image showing numbers fires burning across the island on January 7, 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.

Extreme heat and strong winds fueled the fires. Temperatures in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, soared to a record high of 41.8°Celsius (107.2°Fahrenheit) on January 4. The blazes destroyed more than 100 homes, including many in the small community of Dunalley. More than 100 people were missing after fire tore through the town.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology's interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees. The range now extends to 54 degrees – well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia – and, perhaps worringly, the forecast outlook is starting to deploy the new colours.

The Australian state of New South Wales is facing one of the highest-risk fire days in its history, with temperatures climbing above 40C.

Firefighters are battling over 100 wildfires raging across the southeast of the country, with more than 20 deemed out of control.

Officials have evacuated national parks, warning that blistering temperatures and high winds are causing "catastrophic" fire conditions in some areas.

All state forests and national parks have been closed as a precaution and total fire bans are in place with temperatures expected to reach as high as 45C in some places.

Strong winds are also forecast, which could fan the flames in unpredictable directions.

NASA image courtesy of LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Adam Voiland. Instrument: Terra - MODIS