Australian fires in 2019–2020 had even more global reach than previously thought

The severe, devastating wildfires that raged across southeastern Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 packed a powerful punch that extended far beyond the country, two new studies find.

The blazes injected at least twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as was previously thought, one team’s satellite-derived estimates revealed. The fires also sent up vast clouds of smoke and ash that wafted far to the east over the Southern Ocean, fertilizing the waters with nutrients and triggering widespread blooms of microscopic marine algae called phytoplankton, another team found. Both studies were published online September 15 in Nature.

Meteorologist Ivar van der Velde of the SRON Netherlands Institute

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