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Flooding in Queensland, Australia

February 17th, 2009 Category: Floods, Rivers

Queensland, Australia - February 15th, 2009

Queensland, Australia - February 15th, 2009

Several rivers running across the Cape York Peninsula, in the Queensland region of Northern Australia, can be seen here.

The eastern coast of Queensland is currently experiencing problems with flooding in cities and towns such as Cairns, Ingham, Townsville and Charters Towers.

Early storms usually start in October and then the wet season carries on from the end of January until April; however, the area is receiving more rain than it has in years, reported the BBC.

This region of Australia appeared much drier the last time it was observed (click here), as the terrain was brownish-red in color. In this current image, taken in the middle of  the wet season, with an olive-colored landscape that enjoys some very vivid green patches.

The tan, sediment-filled river to the south is the Norman River, which originates in the Gregory Range and flows 420 km northwest to the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is joined by two major tributaries, the Clara and Yappar Rivers.

North of the Norman River, the Gilbert-Einasleigh River can be seen running horizontally across the peninsula. It is one of the largest river systems in northern Australia.

Although it is a seasonal stream and discharge can vary greatly depending on the intensity of the monsoon, the Gilbert-Einasleigh has the sixth-highest discharge of any river in Australia.

It is estimated that runoff from the Gilbert-Einasleigh system totals about 2.2 percent of the total runoff from Australia.

Finally, the Mitchell River is visible above the Gilbert-Einasleigh.  The river begins on the Atherton Tableland about 50 kilometres (31 mi) northwest of Cairns, and flows about 750 kilometres (470 mi) northwest across Cape York Peninsula to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The river’s watershed covers an area of 71,757 km2 (27,706 sq mi). The Mitchell River has the state’s largest discharge, but is intermittent and may be dry for part of the year.

Its tributaries (from east to west) include the Tate River, Lynd River, Walsh River, Palmer River and Alice River.

Fires in Northern Australia

November 8th, 2008 Category: Fires

Fires in Northern Australia - October 30th, 2008

Fires in Northern Australia - October 30th, 2008

Detail of fires in Cape York Peninsula, Australia

Detail of fires in Cape York Peninsula, Australia

In this image we can see two fires in the Cape York Peninsula, in the Queensland region of Northern Australia.

The rivers below are the Mitchell and Alice Rivers, running through the Mitchell-Alice Rivers National Park to the Gulf of Carpentaria on the left.

Fires are important for maintaining the ecological systems in much of Northern Australia and in the Cape York Peninsula in particular.

The land in this region ranges from floodplains to mountains, which receive different amounts of rainfall. The Western side of the peninsula is drier than the eastern side, making fire management there more difficult.

According to the Savannah Explorer, the rangers of the Queensland National Parks have been carrying out “storm burns”, fires lit just before expected rainfall when fuel levels are high.

The purpose of these fires is to encourage the return of native grasses to areas where woody weeds and trees are becoming overly abundant, thus maintaining maximum biodiversity.

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