Numerous bushfires are plaguing the Northern Territory in Australia. Seen in this Aqua satellite image taken on June 16, 2014, red dots or "hot spots" are dispersed across the landscape. Each hot spot is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for fire.
Most of the areas where the hot spots are located are in uninhabited areas such as national parks. This, however, does not make the threat harmless. Bushfires, even in uninhabited areas can have deleterious effects on the environment. While fire can help enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality. Smoke travels on wind currents and can bring that polluted air to populated areas causing residents to have respiratory issues. Fire can also wipe out delicate species of plants and animals in the areas stricken.