The deadly Australian fires are now so vast, they have spread smoke around the world. NASA astronauts on the International Space Station are closely monitoring and photographing the fires as Australia continues to burn.
NASA astronaut Christina Koch is among those on the Expedition 61 ISS crew to share aerial photos of dust flying across Australia and smoke rising from numerous fires.
Australia. Our hearts and thoughts are with you
NASA astronaut Christina Koch
Ms Koch, who recently set a new record for the longest space mission by a woman, published a series of fire photos with the caption: “Australia. Our hearts and thoughts are with you.”
The American crew member’s post swiftly received thousands of likes, with several users expressing their sadness at the continuing tragedy in Australia.
Twitter user Roman replied to the post: “Very sad. If this keeps happening the planet is going to end up just like Venus.”
Daniel Wright said: “The devastation to wildlife has been unimaginable … most heartbreaking is the koala bears #SaveTheKoala.”
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, the International Space Station’s commander, also sent several tweets revealing the environmental crisis caused by the deadly Australian fires.
Mr Parmitano wrote on Monday: “An immense ash cloud covers Australia as we fly toward the sunset.”
The astronaut’s accompanying a photo depicted an ominous cloud of dust and smoke covering the Australian desert.
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Other images from the ISS astronaut showed thick dust streaming over the ocean near Australia.
Mr Parmitano said in another tweet: “Australia fires: lives, hopes, dreams in ashes.”
The Australian fires have killed at least 27 people since September last year, while the inferno is now spewing dangerous smog around major Australian cities.
The US space agency NASA is tracking smoke spreading around the globe, a phenomenon easily visible from space.
Thunderstorms caused by the wildfires are accelerating the smoke plume in its path around the world.
The smoke is forecast to soon return to Australian airspace, according to ABC Australia.
Lisa Harvey-Smith, an astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales, told ABC the resulting smoke can rise at least 10 miles (17km) into the atmosphere and “travel relatively unimpeded, above most of the atmosphere and weather”.
A NASA Earth Observatory blog post revealed different types of clouds are accompanying the fire smoke plumes, such as pyrocumulonimbus and flammagenitus.
NASA said: ”The formation of pyrocumulus clouds requires fires to burn hot enough to create an updraft of superheated, fast-rising air.
“As the hot air rises and spreads out, it cools, causing water vapour to condense and form clouds.
“In certain conditions, powerful updrafts can create clouds that rise several kilometres and turn into full-fledged thunderstorms.
“The storms pose serious risks for pilots and firefighters due to powerful turbulence.”
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