As the devastating wildfires continue to ravage Australia, the resulting smoke is set to make a complete circuit of the globe.

Nasa is currently tracking the smoke as it moves through the atmosphere. The space agency says the combination of ash, smoke and burning material is reaching more than nine miles up into the stratosphere and forming ‘pyrocumulonimbus events’ that could lead to more fires.

Described as ‘unprecedented conditions,’ the vast amounts of smoke are being tracked by a specially-developed ultraviolet aerosol index and the reach is staggering.

Colin Seftor, a research scientist at Nasa Goddard said, ‘The UV index has a characteristic that is particularly well suited for identifying and tracking smoke from pyroCb events: the higher the smoke plume, the larger the aerosol index value.

‘Values over 10 are often associated with such events. The aerosol index values produced by some of the Australian pyroCb events have rivaled that largest values ever recorded.’

The impact of the smoke could be felt as far away as Porto Alegre, Brazil, where a blanket of it spread across a beach near the banks of the Guaiba River, causing an unusually dark horizon as the sun set.



‘Beyond New Zealand, by Jan. 8, the smoke had travelled halfway around Earth, crossing South America, turning the skies hazy and causing colorful sunrises and sunsets,’ Nasa wrote.

‘The smoke is expected to make at least one full circuit around the globe, returning once again to the skies over Australia.’

The U.N world meteorological organisation say the fires are so vast the presence of smoke has been detected in several cities across South America and possibly even the Antarctic.

The wildfire crisis has killed 27 people, burnt down 2,000 homes,wiped out more than one billion animals and destroyed 12 million acres of land – more than the size of Croatia.