Bushfires, Climate Change

Bushfires, Climate Change

Australia bushfires spewed as much smoke into stratosphere as volcano: Study

Australia bushfires spewed as much smoke into stratosphere as volcano: Study

19/3/2021 5:13:00 AM

Australia bushfires spewed as much smoke into stratosphere as volcano: Study

WASHINGTON: The bushfires that ravaged Australia between 2019 and 2020 were so huge that they spewed as much smoke into the stratosphere as a ...

AdvertisementFirst, the fires themselves were intense. Second, they occurred in an area of far southern Australia where the distance between the troposphere and the stratosphere is smaller than elsewhere. And lastly, the fires took place near strong storms, which helped draw the smoke up higher into the atmosphere.

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The fact that the smoke was able to billow so high is crucial to understanding its environmental impact: Usually, such smoke might only stay in the lower part of the atmosphere for a few days or weeks."But once it gets to the stratosphere, it stays between months to years," Koren explained.

The winds are stronger up there, allowing the smoke to be dispersed farther and faster than might otherwise be possible."Basically what we get is a very thin smoke blanket that covers the whole hemisphere for many months," Koren said.READ: Bushfires bring fears of 'new normal' to life Down Under headtopics.com

"NOT CLEAR YET"Researchers could see the smoke in the stratosphere for six months, from January to July 2020, via satellite monitoring.Eventually, it became too difficult to separate the smoke from the Australian bushfires from smoke in the stratosphere that might have come from other sources.

"But most likely there is still today a signature of the smoke in the stratosphere," Koren said.The main effect of the smoke staying in the atmosphere for so long is that it can reflect radiation coming from the sun.According to Koren, that"definitely has a cooling effect overall," especially on the ocean, potentially disrupting processes such as algae photosynthesis in the southern hemisphere.

The smoke can also absorb solar radiation, which can have a localized warming effect."The consequences of the warming of the smoke in the stratosphere are not clear yet," Koren said. Read more: CNA »

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