Smoke heads home after circling globe
Satellite imagery from NASA has shown the sheer scale of the smoke generated from our bushfire crisis with the space agency predicting the haze will return to Australia in the coming days.
The massive plumes of smoke have pushed up into the atmosphere before circling the globe, turning New Zealand's glaciers brown and affecting South America before returning back here.
"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," the agency said on its website.
"The smoke is expected to make at least one full circuit around the globe, returning once again to the skies over Australia."
The smoke was even visible from the International Space Station with an astronaut taking a picture that showed the brown haze floating in the sky.
Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist with NASA, also posted the incredible images of the smoke's movement.
As seen by yesterday's #SNPP #OMPS aerosol index the #AustraliaFires smoke is now south of western Australia (black circle). Of note: the smoke is pretty much continuous. Also of note: the AI signal in central Australia is dust from a massive dust storm, not smoke. pic.twitter.com/W9aNsoBnPp— Colin Seftor (@colin_seftor) January 13, 2020
Here's the #SNPP #VIIRS RGB image (top), with the #OMPS AI overlaid (bottom). The distance spanned by the #AustraliaFires #smoke is so long that I switched to a simple rectangular projection. Left date refers to data west of the date line, right date refers to data east of it. pic.twitter.com/oAesPI4wKw— Colin Seftor (@colin_seftor) January 8, 2020
NASA has been watching Australia's smoke since before New Year's Eve, which was one of our worst bushfire days to date.
In another satellite image from NASA, plumes of smoke can be seen moving across the Pacific Ocean.
Cities across Australia have already been blanketed in smoke from the bushfire crisis.
Just last night, Melbourne had the second worst air pollution in the world.
Melbourne is facing an air quality emergency Tuesday as hazardous levels of smoke haze engulf the city 😷. As pollution levels skyrocket, the @EPA_Victoria is warning now even healthy Victorians could experience symptoms including coughing & shortness of breath #melbournesmoke pic.twitter.com/gJVoD6RhyJ— Ben Kimber (@BenKs_World) January 13, 2020
And the Victorian capital is still covered in a smoke haze this morning.
Canberra has also spent most of 2020 in the top 10 of cities with the world's most hazardous air as smoke from surrounding bushfires covered the city.
Sydney has also been hit, with bushfire smoke causing fire alarms in the city's office buildings to go off on a particularly bad day late last year.
It's been almost five months since Australia's bushfire crisis really kicked off, killing people and animals across the country and burning eight million hectares of land.
As the clean-up and recovery efforts continue, the government will today kick off discussions with fire-affected communities on how they can get back on their feet.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will discuss the crisis with big and small business heads in Canberra this afternoon.
The government says it is open to ideas and proposals from businesses to help get local economies back on track.
The PM, treasurer and Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash will each address the roundtable.
"These businesses are viable, but vulnerable and we need to do everything we can to get them back on their feet," Senator Cash said.
"The impact and devastation in areas of these bushfires have been unprecedented."
While it will address property loss suffered by businesses, the meet will also look at the bushfires' impact on supply chains, staffing and customer levels.
The meet comes as Westpac estimates the bushfire crisis will cost the Australian economy $5 billion and cut up to 0.5 per cent of its economic growth.
The government has already announced a series of disaster relief payments and grants available for businesses, farms and local councils.