Scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have stated that the smoke from the devastating Australian bushfires has circumnavigated the Earth. The movement of the smoke is tracked via a Suomi NPP satellite.
In a release, NASA observed that "a black circle shows the smoke which had been traced from its origins coming back to the eastern region of Australia after having travelled around the world."
"In an image taken on Jan. 13, 2020, the Suomi NPP satellite used the reflectance bands on the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument to clearly show the areas that have been affected by the fires (dark brown to black) alongside areas not burned (appearing green to bright green). These reflective bands can also be used to show the "height" of clouds since clouds lower to the ground appear whiter and clouds higher in the atmosphere appear bluer to aqua since the ice crystals within the clouds reflect a blue colour using this instrument. " NASA said.
The fires have claimed at least 28 lives since September, destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres), mostly in New South Wales state. Victoria state increased its official fire death toll by one to five on Wednesday when it reclassified the death of a fire management contractor in a traffic accident in November as a victim of the current wildfire crisis.
NASA, in an earlier release also stated the other actions which have led to a large number of pyrocumulonimbus (pyrCbs) events. PyroCbs are essentially fire-induced thunderstorms. 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.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received heavy criticism for being absent and passive in order to deal with the wildfires. On Sunday, he said that his government was building resilience to the fire danger posed by climate change. "This is a longer-term risk framework model which deals with one of the big issues in response to the climate changing."