Satellite imagery at work Emergency management

Four male firefighters crouch on ground with landed helicopter in distance
Real colour satellite image of bushfire on brown landscape with wiggling river

In times of fire and flood, satellites are eyes in the sky

Natural hazards are occurring at unimagined scales across Australia, in unprecedented combinations and in unexpected locations. Many of these events are being driven by our changing climate. The provision of satellite imagery and data to help emergency services plan for and respond to these hazards — especially fire and flood — has been a driving force behind the Digital Earth Australia program.  

Our imagery and data can help model fire risk indicators, contribute to weather observations and forecasts, map land cover types, investigate water quality and availability, assess the impact and extents of fires and floods, and contribute to hazard planning, response, and recovery efforts.    

Got a project that needs a big picture? 

flooded town landscape with submerged roundabout

The Copernicus Emergency Management System

Geoscience Australia coordinates activation of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters and the European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) on behalf of Emergency Management Australia and state emergency services.

This means when crises are encountered, Australia can gain rapid access to satellite imagery and information products from satellite data operators around the world to assist our emergency managers. 

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charred eucalypt trees on an overcast day

Landsat at hand during Black Summer

The 2019–20 bushfire season was the worst New South Wales has ever recorded. Over the course of a few months, 5.5 million hectares of land was burnt, claiming the lives of many people and upwards of a billion animals.

Our long-term partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) meant we could make vital satellite imagery available to emergency services.

Related Resources

Map of Australian showing coloured red and yellow dots

DEA Hotspots

DEA Hotspots is a national bushfire monitoring tool detecting areas of unusually high temperatures for use by emergency services.

See the product
Report cover reading Bushfire Earth Observation Taskforce

Bushfire Earth Observation Taskforce

The Australian Space Agency explores the role of Earth Observation information in planning, response and recovery for bushfires.  

Read the report
Give way sign submerged in floodwater

Geoscience Australia for Community Safety

Discover how other programs of Geoscience Australia are informing work on bushfires, floods, earthquakes and cyclones.  

Learn more