NASA states that smoke from Australian bush-fires has circumnavigated the planet

Volunteer fire fighters on duty at Menai Rural Fire Service Station in Sydney

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"An enormous ash cloud covers Australia as we fly toward the sunset", Parmitano tweeted Monday (Jan. 13), showing a thick cloud of dust and smoke covering the desert.

The rate of deliberately lit fires reportedly escalated during the Australian school holidays. This week, the University of Sydney reported new estimates of the fire's impact on wildlife, claiming that 1 billion birds, reptiles and mammals may have been killed as a result.

The deadly Australian fires are now so vast, they have spread smoke around the world.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with you", Koch said in the social media posts. Together, NASA instruments detect actively burning fires, track the transport of smoke from fires, provide information for fire management, and map the extent of changes to ecosystems, based on the extent and severity of burn scars.

The yellow in this graphic indicates the smoke haze travelling around the world.

"Over the past week, NASA satellites have observed an extraordinary amount of smoke injected into the atmosphere from the Australian fires and its subsequent eastward dispersal".

"Once in the stratosphere, the smoke can travel thousands of miles from its source, affecting atmospheric conditions globally", it added. The animation shows how the smoke from Australia has already traveled halfway across the globe by January 8, 2020.

Australians are quickly learning about the different types of clouds that accompany wildfire smoke plumes.

These clouds are so big that they've created their own weather patterns, according to NASA.

"The UV index has a characteristic that is particularly well suited for identifying and tracking smoke from pyroCb (pyrocumulonimbus) events: the higher the smoke plume, the larger the aerosol index value", NASA research scientist Colin Seftor said. NASA astronauts on the International Space Station are closely monitoring and photographing the fires as Australia continues to burn. As these materials cool, clouds are formed that behave like traditional thunderstorms but without the accompanying precipitation. "In certain conditions, powerful updrafts can create clouds that rise several kilometers and turn into full-fledged thunderstorms ... the storms pose serious risks for pilots and firefighters due to powerful turbulence".

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