The smoke from the recent bush fires on the east coast of Australia will continue to push across the Pacific and will eventually make at least one full circuit around the globe, according to NASA.
The space agency has used satellites to map the trajectory of the smoke which has so far affected New Zealand and parts of South America.
The smoke has travelled so high into the atmosphere it has moved into the stratosphere, the second atmospheric layer surrounding the earth, which could cause unprecedented and rapid changes in global atmospheric conditions. NASA added that the volume of smoke being released into the atmosphere is also responsible for multiple pyrocumulonimbus events – or fire-generated thunderstorms.
The agency is studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and whether it provides “a net atmospheric cooling or warming”.
In this tragic spell of bush fires, over 2000 homes have been destroyed and 28 people killed. The air quality of those living in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra are experiencing severely diminished air quality which has been deemed ‘hazardous’ on several occasions by Australian officials. The is wide concern over public health.
Some of the harmful gasses released from the fires include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There is also great concern for the ultra-fine particles released into the atmosphere — invisible to the naked eye but able to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Officials have warned that face masks alone are not enough protection from these harmful particles, and has urged people to refrain from exercising outdoors.
Read: Extreme Australia
Main Image: Ferocious Fires in Australia Intensify, NASA