wildfire clouds can spew as many aerosols into the atmosphere as a volcanic eruption

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MASSIVE WILDFIRE CLOUDS can be as dan­gerous as vol­canic erup­tions in some re­spects. As wild­fires be­come more common, these clouds are be­coming a greater hazard. This is ad­dressed in the ar­ticle “Tow­ering fire-fueled thun­der­clouds can spew as many aerosols as vol­canic erup­tions,” which“As warming worsens wild­fires, it may create con­di­tions ripe for stronger py­rocu­mu­lonimbus clouds.” 

The ar­ticle was written by for Sci­ence New (in two sen­tences: “A mas­sive tower of smoke gen­er­ated by Aus­tralian wild­fires in late 2019 set a new record for the loftiest and largest fire-spawned thun­der­storms ever mea­sured. In terms of sheer number of aerosols sent into the stratos­phere, the Aus­tralian plumes were on par with the strongest vol­canic erup­tions in the last 25 years. ”

Re­garding vol­canic aerosols:

“Ex­plo­sive vol­canic erup­tions have the po­ten­tial to in­ject sub­stan­tial amounts of sul­fate aerosols into the lower stratos­phere. In con­trast to aerosol emis­sions in the lower tro­pos­phere, aerosols that enter the stratos­phere may re­main for sev­eral years be­fore set­tling out, be­cause of the rel­a­tive ab­sence of tur­bu­lent mo­tions there.

Con­se­quently, aerosols from ex­plo­sive vol­canic erup­tions have the po­ten­tial to af­fect Earth’s cli­mate. Less-explosive erup­tions, or erup­tions that are less ver­tical in ori­en­ta­tion, have a lower po­ten­tial for sub­stan­tial cli­mate impact.

Fur­ther­more, be­cause of large-scale cir­cu­la­tion pat­terns within the stratos­phere, aerosols in­jected within trop­ical re­gions tend to spread out over the globe, whereas aerosols in­jected within mid­lat­i­tude and polar re­gions tend to re­main con­fined to the middle and high lat­i­tudes of that hemi­sphere.” (Bri­tan­nica)

To read the en­tire Sci­ence News story, click here.

In terms of sheer number of aerosols sent into the stratos­phere, the mas­sive clouds cre­ated by wild­fires in Aus­tralia in 2019 were on par with the strongest vol­canic erup­tions in the last 25 years. Click To Tweet

Photo of gigantic wildfire clouds over Australia in January 2020.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is a mas­sive, stratosphere-piercing py­rocu­mu­lonimbus (or py­roCb) cloud gen­er­ated by smoke from wild­fires in south­eastern Australia’s Or­roral Valley on Jan­uary 31, 2020. (Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images.)


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