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". They have now traced it around the entire globe.
Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swaths of the country devastated since the fire season began in late July. This week, the University of Sydney reported new estimates of the fire's impact on wildlife, claiming that 1 billion birds, reptiles and mammals may have been killed as a result.
Thunderstorms induced by the wildfires are accelerating the smoke plume in its path around the world.
Colin Seftor, a research scientist at NASA Goddard, noted that while analyzing the satellite data, the aerosol index statistics were alarmingly high. The center panel is from January 8th through 9th. Note that the strong aerosol signal over central Australia on Jan 13 is from a dust storm. The smoke is also expected to remain in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it will never hit Canada.
As most everyone knows, bushfires have englifed Australia for the past three months, and smoke from the fires isn't dying down.
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This past December was also the second-hottest month on record, only falling behind December 2015, NOAA stated. Climate change is blamed as one of the factors that increase the risk of fires.
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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".
It comes as major Australian cities are still struggling with low air quality from bushfire smoke. NASA has a fleet of Earth-observing instruments, many of which contribute to our understanding of fire in the Earth system.
Typically known as the "land of the long white cloud", New Zealand may have to rethink its name if the now more usual dark clouds continue to hover over the country. "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".
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service confirmed on Monday that there were still 105 bush and grass fires burning across the region - 38 of which were not yet contained. According to the latest forecasts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, heavy rains are expected across New South Wales for the rest of this week, which will hopefully bring some relief from the spreading fires.