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The Australian fire blew smoke into the stratosphere

Francisco Martin Lyon 4 min
As of January 1, 2020, an Australian fire and a large cloud of ash are moving towards New Zealand. NASA

The busfires that devastated Australia between 2019 and 2020 were so large that they smoked like a huge volcanic eruption in the stratosphere, causing adverse effects on the environment, according to a study published in the journal Thursday. Science.

How much smoke was blown into the stratosphere like Australia’s fire volcano

“It was a big surprise for us,” said Ilan Goran, a research associate professor and professor at the Weissman Academy of Sciences in Israel. “I have never seen such an injection (smoke) in the stratosphere,” he said.

The amount of smoke emitted into the atmosphere by fire was created by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, the second largest of the 20th century.

The researchers noted that the smoke moved from Australia to the east and then returned from the west two weeks later.

“We were able to see the smoke complete the entire cycle in two weeks,” Goran said. “I have never seen such a strong event spread so fast.”

According to the study, this phenomenon can be explained by three factors:

First, The fires were intense. Second, Occurred in an area of ​​extreme southern Australia The distance between the tropics and the stratosphere is shorter than elsewhere. Finally, The fire broke out near heavy bombs and storms, Which helped to raise the smoke in the atmosphere.

It is important to understand the environmental impact of secondhand smoke: such fumes usually last only a few days or weeks in the lower part of the atmosphere.

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“But once it reaches the stratosphere, it will last from months to years,” Goran explained.

The wind is strong there, thus allowing the smoke to scatter far and wide.

“Basically what we get is a very thin blanket, which covers the hemisphere for several months,” Goran said.

For six months from January to July 2020, researchers were able to see smoke in the stratosphere through satellite surveillance. Eventually, it became increasingly difficult to separate the smoke from the Australian bushfire from the smoke in the stratosphere from other sources.

“But mostly there is a sign of smoke in the stratosphere,” Goran said.

The main effect of smoke that has been in the atmosphere for so long is that it reflects the radiation coming from the sun. According to Koran, “of course it has a cooling effect in general,” especially in the ocean, which disrupts processes such as algae photosynthesis in the southern hemisphere.

The smoke also absorbs solar radiation, which has a localized thermal effect.

“The effects of smoke warming in the stratosphere are not yet clear,” Goran said.


Aerosol levels illustrated by the injection of smoke into the stratosphere. Eaton Hirsch and Ilan Goran2. Science: Vol. 371, Issue 6535, p. 1269-1274. DOI: 10.1126 / science.abe1415
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This entry was posted in Francisco Martin Leon on March 23, 2021