NASA: Australian Bushfire Smoke Now in the Stratosphere and Will Go around the Earth

The future of our worldly air quality doesn't look to be a bright one this year, say NASA scientists.
Fabienne Lang
NASA image of the bushfire locationsGoddard Space Flight Center/NASA

The bleak news revolving around the Australian bushfires continues. NASA has predicted that the fires will produce enough smoke that it will circumnavigate the Earth, to return back to Australia.

As of January 8, NASA stated that this dangerous smoke had already made it halfway around the world. It's already had a clear impact in New Zealand and across South America.


What has NASA said?

"The smoke is expected to make at least one full circuit around the globe, returning once again to the skies over Australia," stated NASA.

Combining UV aerosol index with RGB information is one way to enhance both.

NASA's video showing the movement of the cloud away from Australia, Source: Colin Seftor/NASA

The space agency also explained that the smoke has been "turning the skies hazy, and causing colorful sunrises and sunsets," in South America. 

Australia's neighbor, New Zealand, is clearly suffering from the negative effects of the smoke: "The smoke is having a dramatic impact on New Zealand, causing severe air quality issues across the county and visibly darkening mountaintop snow." The nation is 1,200 kilometers (745.6 miles) away from Australia.

Typically known as the "land of the long white cloud", New Zealand may have to rethink its name if the currently more usual dark clouds continue to hover over the country. 

Not just a local situation

The fires have so far brought about the death of an estimated 1 billion animals in Australia, and have killed at least 28 people. Countless numbers of homes have been damaged or entirely engulfed by the flames. 

Satellite photos show the dark and murky clouds moving away from Australia, as they set off on their worldwide "tour." 

NASA: Australian Bushfire Smoke Now in the Stratosphere and Will Go around the Earth
The dark cloud on the bottom right-hand corner is moving away from Australia, Source: CIRA-RAMMB/Colorado State

These clouds are so big that they've created their own weather patterns, according to NASA. They have their own thunderstorms, which can spark fires. It's these storms that are pushing smoke up into our stratosphere, with certain plumes reaching as high as 15 kilometers up (9.3 miles) from the ground.

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

It's this smoke that will fall under intense scrutiny, as it's yet unknown what impact it will have on our global weather.

The UV aerosol index is a qualitative product that can easily detect smoke (and dust) over all types of land surfaces.

NASA's illustration showing smoke and dust movement away from Australia. Source: Colin Seftor/NASA

Currently, the Australian fires' devastation has wreaked more havoc than the 2019 Amazon fires