Smoke from Australian wildfires will travel around the globe

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2020

Many Australian cities and towns are struggling with low air quality from bushfire smoke.

But the high concentration of carbon dioxide may continue on, with the space agency warning the smoke will make "at least one full circuit". In fact, by January 8, smoke from the fires had reached South America, turning skies hazy in some regions, while also causing colorful sunrises and sunsets.

But much of the smoke from the bushfires has lingered over the continent. The fire season began in late July, and has since devastated large portions of the country.

"The smoke is having a dramatic impact on New Zealand, causing severe air quality issues across the county and visibly darkening mountaintop snow".

Around 1.25 billion animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles, are estimated to have died due to the crisis, according to the World Wildlife Fund. "The unprecedented conditions that include searing heat combined with historic dryness, have led to the formation of an unusually large number of pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCbs) events".

The smoke first rises up into the Earth's stratosphere (the second major layer of the Earth's atmosphere)-driven by fire-induced thunderstorms-before making its way around the planet. "As these materials cool, clouds are formed that behave like traditional thunderstorms but without the accompanying precipitation".

"Once in the stratosphere, the smoke can travel thousands of miles from its source, affecting atmospheric conditions globally", it added.

"The effects of those events - whether the smoke provides a net atmospheric cooling or warming, what happens to underlying clouds - is now the subject of intense study", NASA said.

This process is not unusual, according to University of Reading climate scientist Nicolas Bellouin.

In addition to the fire smoke, Koch also captured images of a giant dust storm which spread across Australia towards the end of last week.

He told CNN, "If we started to see fires of this level in Australia every year, or every couple of years, then the impacts on air quality and climate will become both concerning and noticeable".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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