WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Smoke from the bush fires that ravaged Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 continues to circle the globe almost four months after it was formed, scientists have found.
Richard Querel, a scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said in a statement Thursday it was remarkable to be able to track a smoke plume for more than 100 days.
Scientists around the world have been tracking the blob since it formed in December following bush fires in Australia that burned about 46,000 square miles of land across Australia.
Querel said it was one of the largest plumes of smoke observed by satellites that high in the stratosphere.
“The fires were so energetic they injected smoke and carbon aerosol into the stratosphere which have since risen to about 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) above the earth.”
He said at its height the main bulk of the plume was about 3 miles high.
The smoke has now been around the globe “a few times” with the remnants currently over South America, Querel said.
The bush fires also caused a spike in carbon monoxide readings earlier in the year, but Querel said it will have converted to carbon dioxide over a few weeks and would not be significant for the climate.
“The important thing about these carbon monoxide readings is that they show just how large these fires were.”