Australian fires to affect atmosphere worldwide, NASA scientists say

With smoke moving, air quality issues possible globally

Smoke from bushfires blankets the southeast coastline of Australia as the International Space Station orbited 269 miles above the above the Tasman Sea. (NASA)

MIAMI – The smoke coming from the fires in southeastern Australia has spread high into the atmosphere, and during an eastward dispersal, it will be making at least one full circuit globally, which will be affecting air quality, according to NASA scientists.

In New Zealand, the smoke was able to darken mountaintop snow. By Jan. 8, NASA satellites detected the smoke had traveled halfway around the earth and was turning the skies hazy. The smoke covered much of Peru and Argentina. And on Friday, NASA reported some of it was moving north.

NASA released this animation showing how the smoke from the fires in Australia is affecting air quality around the world. (NASA)

NASA scientists expect the smoke to affect atmospheric conditions and air quality globally, but they do not know with certainty if it will have a cooling or a warming effect.

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In this Dec. 31, 2019, photo provided by Siobhan Threlfall, fire and thick smoke remains the village of Nerrigundah, Australia. The tiny village has been among the hardest hit by Australia's devastating wildfires, with about two thirds of the homes destroyed and a 71-year-old man killed. (AP Photo/Siobhan Threlfall)

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The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.