The Australian wildfires have sent smoke and ash over to New Zealand’s glaciers. They are now a dirty brown and experts fear this may very well help them melt faster then climate change is already doing.
From New South Wales and Victoria Australia, a jet stream wind runs to New Zealand’s South Island allowing the transport of the bushfires debris according to Meteorologist Michael Guy at CNN.
On New Year’s Day videos and pictures Showing the brownish-yellow haze of the snow on glaciers and mountain peaks in the Southern Alps were taken like the one below.
Rey, an Australian woman living in Wellington, NZ snapped some of these photos on Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.
“We took a flight up over Fox and Franz Josef glaciers (from Franz Josef township) and landed on a flat surface not too far from the glaciers, not on a glacier per se. The pilot said he had been up the day before and the snow was white,” Rey, who didn’t want to give her full name, told CNN.
“I’m an Aussie living in Wellington NZ on a South Island road trip with my sister who is from rural NSW, so we’ve been following the news closely and feeling pretty devastated.”
Near Franz Josef glacier. The “caramelised” snow is caused by dust from the bushfires. It was white yesterday pic.twitter.com/Ryqq685Ind— Fabulousmonster (@Rachelhatesit) December 31, 2019
Helen Clark a former NZ Prime Minister tweeted about the ash contaminating the glaciers saying it “is likely to accelerate melting.”
How one country's tragedy has spillover effects: Australian bushfires have created haze in New Zealand with particular impact on the south of the South Island yesterday & now spreading more widely. Impact of ash on glaciers is likely to accelerate melting: https://t.co/U3JRYkqL0F https://t.co/50ExGMdXR6— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkNZ) January 1, 2020
Guy explains that it’s a result of the Albedo effect:
“This is when the whiteness of an object reflects radiation away impacting its temperature, thus, areas on the planet that are covered in ice and snow do not absorb the radiation as fast because it reflects it, causing lower temperatures than areas with a lower whiteness value which are quick to absorb the radiation and increase and hold on to the temperatures.”
The glacier may melt faster added Guy “since the color will be a little darker than true white.”
This the view from the top of the Tasman Glacier NZ today – whole South island experiencing bushfire clouds. We can actually smell the burning here in Christchurch. Thinking of you guys. 😢#nswbushfire #AustralianFires #AustraliaBurning pic.twitter.com/iCzOGkou4o— Miss Roho (@MissRoho) January 1, 2020
In other areas around New Zealand’s South Island residents awoke to eerie, orange, yellow, and gray skies on New Year’s Day. Many posted to social media.
South Island, New Year’s Day. Heartbreaking reality of the Australian fires still burning. Skies lit yellow, orange and grey here in NZ this morning, air smelling of burning. #australiafires #australiaburns #savethekoalas #nofilter pic.twitter.com/5w3K5WCx7z— Megan Bilcock (@meganbilcock) January 1, 2020
The ash and smoke from the bushfires will likely have the same effect on the New Zealand glaciers that the Amazon forest fires had on glaciers in the Andes mountains. The particles and pollutants reduce the ability of the glaciers to refract sunlight back and instead absorb far more of it.