Smoke and ashes from Australian forest fires have caused New Zealand glaciers to become caramel brown, with one expert fearing this could increase the risk of melting faster this year.
A jet stream carrying large amounts of smoke and ash this week from the Victoria and New South Wales fires deposited them along the way on New Zealand's South Island as they traveled east, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
Photos and videos taken on New Year's Day show that the yellow mist had discolored the snowy mountain peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps.
Rey, an Australian who lives in Wellington, took some of these photos on Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.
"We took a flight over the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers (from the city of Franz Josef) and landed on a flat surface not far from the glaciers, nor on a glacier itself. The pilot said it had been the day before and the snow was white, "he told CNN Rey, who did not want to give his full name.
"I'm an Australian who lives in Wellington, New Zealand on a South Island car ride with my sister from rural NSW, so we follow the news closely and feel very devastated."
Satellite images on Thursday showed smoke from the fires in New South Wales and Victoria across the Tasman Sea and New Zealand's North Island. The glaciers of New South Wales and Franz Josef are over 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark tweeted that the impact of Australian ashes on glaciers "is likely to accelerate melting."
This is due to the so-called Albedo effect, Guy explains.
"That's when the whiteness of an object reflects radiation, affecting its temperature," he continues.
"Thus, ice and snow covered areas of the planet do not absorb radiation as quickly because they reflect it, causing lower temperatures than areas with a lower whiteness value, which are quick to absorb radiation and increase and retain radiation. radiation. temperatures ".
Guy added that melting glaciers this year could accelerate, "because the color will be a little darker than true white."
People from other parts of New Zealand's South Island woke up on New Year's Day with the sky turning yellow, orange and gray scary from the fires.
In November, travel photographer and blogger Liz Carlson took photos of the glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand's South Island, turning rosy with dust and particles blown by wildfires in Australia.
"Often, by late summer, glaciers can look dirty, even ashes, with all the melting snow and bits of black rock, but this was spring time, so it was really bizarre," she told CNN this month. past.
Although it is too early to say exactly how the particles will affect New Zealand's glaciers, scientists have found that forest fires in the Amazon caused glaciers in the Andes Mountains to melt faster, with pollutants like black carbon and dust lodged in the ice, reducing the glacier's ability to reflect sunlight.
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