Australia’s bushfires have just completely wrapped the earth, forming a full circuit ring, according to NASA’s atmospheric scientist Colin Seftor.
A smoke ring has swept across the South Pacific, South America, the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and finally the Indian Ocean. Smoke from about 300 individual fires, several of which have already merged, in the thickest layer has been blown above the Pacific Ocean, as well as central Australia itself. Smoke is visible not only in Sydney but also to Chile and Argentine.
The devastating fires have already claimed the lives of at least 25 people and more than a billion animals, and have destroyed some 3,000 homes. Despite the rains in recent weeks, there is no indication yet that fire will soon calm down.
“It’s one continuous, long line of smoke, which I find very unusual,” a NASA scientist told the media. The Seftor noted that he had never seen anything like this since normal smoke dissipates, but this time they are much denser and stick together. Their density is such that South Americans can sometimes smell and see how they color the sky, especially at sunset, but they are too diffused to cause breathing problems.
The total area burned by fires today is twice the size of Belgium. Such flame-covered areas are enough for their smoke to create their own cloud formations, and this is what happened.
Such clouds also tend to produce thunderstorms without precipitation, during which lightning can cause new fires. Scientists note that the fires have darkened the glaciers in New Zealand, causing them to absorb more heat, which could accelerate their melting.
Seftor says he is interested in continuing to follow the effects of the smoke from the fires, assuming that a light smoke screen could also cool the planet in the short term.