CLIMATE CRISIS

Australian fires: Understanding the intensity and global impact

The Australian bush fires have had a devastating impact globally: spreading plumes of carbon, destroying parks and forests, burning down homes and killing people and animals. Pollution from the fires has spread to New Zealand and even South America. Here we take a look at how the fires spread.

BY PABLO ROBLES | JANUARY 17, 2020

BUSH FIRES CREATE WEATHER SYSTEMS

On December 29, 2019, clouds rose to heights of 16km by the time they reached New Zealand. Not only do these fire-induced storms generate severe winds which fan flames and spread embers, they also spark new fires through lightning, according to the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria.

THE WARMEST AND DRIEST YEAR

2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record, contributing to the power of the fires roaring across the coast.

EAST COAST ON FIRE

Ash rained down on the east coast, plunging seaside towns into darkness at one point. As rural communities and major cities were cloaked in smoke, choking Australians could only hope cooler air and light rain would bring relief.

AIR POLLUTION

Sydney experienced unprecedented levels of air pollution while the air quality of Canberra, Australia's capital topped the scale at 20 times higher than levels considered hazardous. Nasa satellite images show how plumes of ‘black carbon’ have travelled over 11,000km, reaching South America on January 08, 2020

Visual story and development by:
Pablo Robles ([email protected])

Graphic and content editor Darren Long.
Additional web development by Yaser Ibrahim.

Sources: Country Fire Authority, Nasa Fire Information for
Resource Management System, Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

Print version

South China Morning Post
January 17, 2020