Published: Thu, January 16, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Smoke from Aussie bush fires set to circle earth, says Nasa

Smoke from Aussie bush fires set to circle earth, says Nasa

CNN reported earlier this month that the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers in New Zealand had turned brown as a result of Australian bushfire smoke.

The smoke is forecast to soon return to Australian airspace, according to ABC Australia. It's already had a clear impact in New Zealand and across South America.

Smoke from fires in Australia is expected to make at least one "full circuit" around the globe and return to the skies over the country, scientists from NASA have warned.

"Beyond New Zealand, by January 8, the smoke had traveled halfway around Earth, crossing South America, turning the skies hazy and causing colorful sunrises and sunsets", NASA stated. The state has been spared the worst of the bushfires.

As the thick smoke crossed the Tasman Sea, it brought severe air pollution to parts of New Zealand and turned snow in the mountains brown. There are nearly daily reports of the increasing toll, not only on the environment and wildlife but also on communities impacted by the fires.

The smoke has billowed into the lower stratosphere, reaching 17.7 kilometres above sea level, USA space agency NASA said this week.

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"The formation of pyrocumulus clouds requires fires to burn hot enough to create an updraft of superheated, fast-rising air", NASA wrote.

This smoke "can travel thousands of miles from its source, affecting atmospheric conditions globally", stated NASA.

The intense temperature has produced more than 20 firestorms - or unusual thunderstorms partially fueled by heat from the flames - over the past week, according to NASA, which notes that "strong winds from these storms can fan fires into raging infernos".

"By our measures, this is the most extreme pyrocumulonimbus storm outbreak in Australia", Nasa quoted Dr Mike Fromm and his colleagues from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington as saying.

Three panels of aerosol (smoke) data from NASA's Suomi NPP satellite are shown.

Satellites in orbit around the poles provide observations of the entire planet several times per day, whereas satellites in a geostationary orbit provide coarse-resolution imagery of fires, smoke and clouds every five to 15 minutes.

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