Wildfire smoke detected in stratosphere

How can smoke travel up beyond the lower atmosphere?
31 March 2021
Presented by Katie Haylor


smoke rising from a valley


Fires of any scale tend to produce a certain amount of smoke - a variety of different particles including small bits of unburnt fuel, which eventually disperse into the atmosphere. And looking at data from satellites out in space, scientists in Israel have shown that smoke from the late 2019 / early 2020 Australian wildfires actually travelled up beyond the lower atmosphere (known as the troposphere) and into the stratosphere - that’s above where clouds gather and planes tend to fly.

Up here, these smoke particles stick around for longer, where they can absorb or scatter incoming energy from the sun, and potentially alter the amount of energy that reaches the earth. And in a paper published recently in the journal Science, the scientists have outlined a combination of three factors that they think have led to this happening. Katie Haylor spoke to author Eitan Hirsch from the Israel Institute for Biological Research.



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