Australian bush fires have been heating the stratosphere for six months

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A team of researchers from Jinan University, the University of Colorado, Boulder, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research have found evidence that massive bush fires burned from late 2019 to early 2020. parts of Australia produced so many smoke particles that they increased the temperature of the stratosphere in the region for about six months. In his work published in a journal Letters on geophysical research, the group describes its work, which involved the use of data from forest fires and an aerosol model to calculate how many particles entered the stratosphere and the impact it had.

Fires in Australia burned from about December 2019 to January 2020 and destroyed trees, brushes and homes that covered approximately 14 million hectares – killing 20 people. The fires were so large that astronauts on the International Space Station could see the smoke. The Australian government has calculated that the cost of the fire is approximately 103 billion dollars. In this new effort, researchers discovered that black particles in the smoke were found in the stratosphere, leading to a slight rise in temperature.

The stratosphere is about 10 to 50 kilometers from the Earth’s surface – especially the part of the atmosphere that holds the ozone layer. Previous research has shown that in some cases, smoke can cool the atmosphere by blocking the sun’s heat. But in other cases, the opposite can happen. If the smoke contains large amounts of particles, and they are black, then it can absorb heat from sunlight and transfer it to the air around it. To calculate how much heat was absorbed by the stratosphere, the researchers entered data from fires into both the aerosol and community radiation model for the atmosphere and the Community Earth System system model – both were able to make predictions about the amount of heat trapped by particles and the impact on stratospheric temperature. in the region. They found that the temperature of the stratosphere increased from 1 to 2 degrees C in the region and persisted for approximately six months. They also noticed that smoke particles temporarily increased the size of the ozone hole.


Australian fires have emitted as much smoke into the stratosphere as a volcano: a study


More information:
Pengfei Yu et al. Persistent stratospheric warming due to smoke from the Australian forest fire 2019–2020, Letters on geophysical research (2021). DOI: 10.1029 / 2021GL092609

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Citation: Australian bush fire warms stratosphere for six months (2021, April 9) downloaded April 9, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-australian-bush-stratosphere-months.html

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