Smoke Is Circling Around The Globe Back To Australia Says NASA

Smoke from Australia's bushfires are expected to make a full circuit around the globe according to NASA.

New Zealand has been affected by the smoke from Australia's fires since November, and early this year the sky above Auckland turned orange.

Last week, countries in South America, nearly 11,000 kilometres away from Australia, were also covered in a blanket of smoke.

VIIIRS Red-Green-Blue imagery provides a “true-color” view of the smoke. Image: NASA

NASA has now said the smoke will do a full circuit of the globe and return to Australia.

NASA has been tracking the smoke circulating through observing 'pyroCbs events' more than 15 kilometres high.

"PyroCbs (pyrocumulonimbus) are essentially fire-induced thunderstorms," NASA said.

"They are triggered by the uplift of ash, smoke, and burning material via super-heated updrafts.

"As these materials cool, clouds are formed that behave like traditional thunderstorms but without the accompanying precipitation."



Smoke From Australia's Fires Has Now Reached South America

The smoke from Australia's bushfires has crossed more than 11,000 kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, now arriving in Chile.

PyroCbs events allow smoke to reach the stratosphere, 16 kilometres in altitude.

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

NASA uses two instruments -- WIIRS and OMPS-NM -- onboard  NASA-NOAA’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite to track the smoke.

The unique uses for each instrument allows researchers at NASA Goddard to track smoke globally.

The VIIR instruments show a 'true colour' view of the smoke with imagery.

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

The OMPS is a series of instruments that uses UltraViolet radiation sensors, which creates a ultraviolet index to track aerosols and smoke.

“The UV index has a characteristic that is particularly well-suited for identifying and tracking smoke from pyroCbs events: the higher the smoke plume, the larger the aerosol index value," said Colin Seftor, research scientist at NASA Goddard.

"Values over 10 are often associated with such events.

"The aerosol index values produced by some of the Australian pyroCbs events have rivaled that largest values ever recorded.”