Smoke from Australia’s fires will make ‘full circuit’ around the world

NSW's National Parks and Wildlife Service staff flying with carrots and sweet potatoes before air-dropping them for animals in bushfire-stricken areas around Wollemi National Park

NSW's National Parks and Wildlife Service staff flying with carrots and sweet potatoes before air-dropping them for animals in bushfire-stricken areas around Wollemi National Park

The agency, in a posting last Friday, said that "Nasa satellites have (over the past week) observed an extraordinary amount of smoke injected into the atmosphere from the Australian fires and its subsequent eastward dispersal".

"Unprecedented conditions" of scorching heat combined with drought have resulted in an "unusually large" number of pyrocumulonimbus (pyrCbs) events - fire-induced thunderstorms triggered by an increase in ash, smoke, and burning material.

PyroCb events provide a pathway for smoke to reach the stratosphere more than 10 miles in altitude, and once there, the smoke can travel thousands of miles from its source and affect atmospheric conditions around the world, NASA said. In fact, the satellite imagery we shared with you revealed how large clouds of smoke were on Australia. NASA notes that the effect of Rayleigh scattering, which would add "blue haze", has been taken out.

By studying the plumes of smoke in late December, the space agency said the smoke had traveled "halfway to Earth" and had affected air quality in other countries. "The smoke is having a dramatic impact on New Zealand, causing severe air quality issues across the county and visibly darkening mountaintop snow".

In order to make these conclusions, NASA's team said they studied ultraviolet aerosol indexes, tracking the aerosols and smoke in the skies, as well as UV indexes, detecting smoke and dust over land surfaces.

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According to NASA scientists, the smoke from fires in Australia is expected to form at least one "full cycle" around the globe and return to the sky over the country.

Since September past year, hundreds of fires have burned millions of hectares in Australia, leaving at least 28 people dead, destroying around 2,000 homes and killing more than one billion animals, the BBC reported.

As global temperatures soar, Australia could become so hot and dry that the country's residents could become climate refugees, USA climatologist and geophysicist Michael Mann told Reuters. Dr. Pep Canadell, a lead scientist with Australia's national research agency and the executive director of the Global Carbon Project, said: "For these fires in the southeast south (of Australia), probably we are in the ballpark of 400 million tons of carbon".

"There is also a clear emotional toll, and the distressing images of dead and injured wildlife and charred forests have left most Australians anxious that the bush will never be the same again".

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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