The calm after the storm: Smoke from Australia’s horror bushfire season managed to cool the Earth down for several months – acting as a ‘sunshade’ in the atmosphere
- Plumes of smoke from last summer’s bushfires acted as a sheild to the sunlight
- Researchers believe the smoke actually led to a cooling effect across the globe
- Fires led to thunderclouds being formed which circulated around the world
The huge plumes of smoke created from last summer’s disastrous bushfire season are believed to have created a cooling effect across the globe.
The fires saw so much smoke rise into the atmosphere that it blocked sunlight from reaching the earth’s major water systems and land masses, according to research published in a Communications Earth and Environment paper.
The team of researchers found that the fires spawned a series of thunderclouds known as pyrocumulonimbus clouds which sent smoke into the atmosphere to then be circulated around the globe in a vortex-like manner.
The smoke rose up to 35km above the earth, acting as a sunshade for several months.
Scientists believe the smoke from last summer’s disastrous bushfire season blocked sunlight from reaching the earth, cooling it down (pictured fire crews in Yandeera, Sydney in December, 2019)
Parliament House is covered in an eerie shade of orange as a result of bushfires that ravaged Canberra in January
Smoke from the fires rose up to 35km above the earth, acting as a sunshade for several months (pictured pedestrians are seen wearing masks from smoke haze in Sydney last December)
The impact of the fires worked similarly to a volcano eruption, where the leftover smoke acts as a shield to sunlight.
During the peak of the fires in January, smoke was even seen in South America and Antarctica.
The UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said smoke made its way across the Pacific Ocean, turning the sunsets in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires an eerie shade of red.
Smoke also filled the skies of Chile’s capital Santiago, more than 11,000km away.
‘The Australian wildfires have basically revolutionised our understanding of the climate-altering potential of wildfires through stratospheric feedbacks,’ Sergey Khaykin, one of the researchers from the study said, the Washington Post reported.
The UN World Meteorological Organisation said smoke has made its way across the Pacific Ocean, turning the sunsets in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires an eerie shade of red (pictured)
Thick plumes of smoke tower into the sky as fires ravage East Gippsland in Victoria in January
While the actual amount by which the smoke cooled the earth isn’t known, it’s estimated to be the equivalent of a fraction of one degree.
The team also found that the plumes of smoke decreased the amount of solar energy entering the earth’s atmosphere significantly during January, February and March.
The majority of the fires settled by April but smoke from the disastrous season is still being seen on satellite images.
Mr Khaykin expects the remnants of the fires to be seen from space for at least a year.
The 2019-2020 bushfire season was one of the worst in Australian history, burning across an estimated 18.6 million hectares of land and destroying almost 6,000 buildings, including up to 3,000 homes – as well as killing 33 people.
While the majority of the fires settled by April, smoke from the disastrous season is still being seen on satellite images (pictured firefighter in Tahmoor, south-west of Sydney in December, 2019)