Fires in Australia: smoke to make ‘complete circuit’ around the world, says NASA

Smoke from forest fires covers the southeast coast of Australia on January 8, 2020 while the International Space Station orbited 269 miles above the Tasmanian Sea.Image Copyright


Bushfire smoke seen near the International Space Station

Smoke from massive forest fires in Australia will soon cause Earth to return to the nation, says NASA.

Massive hells have ravaged the nation’s east coast for months, pushing smoke across the Pacific.

NASA said that the feathers of the flames around New Year’s Day had crossed South America, turning hazy skies there, and moved “halfway around the Earth” by January 8.

“The smoke is expected to make at least one complete circuit worldwide,” the US space agency said.

Hundreds of forest fires have been burned in Australia, killing at least 28 people and destroying more than 2,000 homes.

The unprecedented scale and intensity of fires has been exacerbated by climate change, experts say.

How has the smoke traveled the world?

NASA said the recent fires had been so large that they had produced an “unusually large” number of pyro-cumulonimbus events, or thunderstorms generated by fires.

These had sent smoke to the stratosphere, and some registered up to 17.7 km (11 miles).

“Once in the stratosphere, smoke can travel thousands of miles from its source, affecting global atmospheric conditions,” NASA said.

Image Copyright


A satellite image showing smoke traveling to New Zealand on January 5

The agency said it was studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and if it provided “a net cooling or warming.”

What has been the impact of smoke closer to the ground?

NASA noted that the smoke had changed the color of the skies in South America and had dramatically affected New Zealand, where it was “causing serious air quality problems” and “visibly darkening snow on the top of the mountain.”

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Media Subtitle New Zealand was covered by smoke from Australian fires in early January

Large Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide have also suffered dangerous levels of air quality due to smoke from nearby wildfires.

  • Sydney drowns in the thick smoke of forest fires
  • How bad is the smoke from forest fires for health?

On Tuesday, Melbourne residents were enduring a second consecutive day of “dangerous” air quality, which raised concerns about public health.

More than 100 fires continue to burn in the east of the country, however, the coldest conditions in recent days and the predicted rain have helped fire fighting efforts.

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