Erroneous Maps of Australia’s Fires Make the Rounds on the Internet  
Sun, January 23, 2022

Erroneous Maps of Australia’s Fires Make the Rounds on the Internet  


Australia is going through trying times with fires spreading across the continent, but lately, people on social media are doubling down on various misleading maps depicting the fires in the country. Most everyone who’s seen it probably thought it was the real deal—even singer Rihanna. 

Artists Anthony Hearsey, who created this visualization, took to Instagram to explain this matter: “The scale is a little exaggerated due to the render’s glow, but it is generally true to the info from the NASA website. Also note that not all the areas are still burning, and this is a compilation.” 

Other misleading maps also pepper Twitter, with another map from the Australian government going around where “any heat source that is hotter than its surroundings” was recorded, which obviously does not illustrate where the actual fires are. 


Photo Credit: MyFireWatch Australia


Most of these maps also do not account for the state of the fire, which includes how big it is, how far it has spread, whether it has spread that much, whether it’s under control, as well as the risk it poses—all of which are important in finding out how best to deal with the situation. 

According to the news outlet BBC, the efforts of some people to overlay the map of all the burning areas in Australia on other countries is also highly inaccurate, as it does not account for how the curved Earth often distorts continents. Therefore, transposing an area on a flat map will always be inaccurate. 


Photo Credit: Wikipedia


Based on recent information from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, some fires are ranked to be on “advice” alert. Reading up on the alert levels of the NSW Rural Fire Service, the “advice” alert level means that while a fire has been detected, there is no immediate danger from it and that all responders will need to do first is to stay updated in case the situation changes for the worse.