Weather

Australian smoke travels to New Zealand

Ben Domensino, 9 September 2019

 

Smoke from bushfires in eastern Australia is passing to the north of New Zealand today.

A surge of warm and dry air sweeping over eastern Australia late last week caused a number of bushfires to flare up in Queensland and NSW.

Image: Smoke and dust from eastern Australia being carried over the Tasman and Coral Seas on Saturday, September 7th. Source: NASA Terra/MODIS

This outbreak of early-season fires persisted through the weekend amid dry and windy weather, with multiple fires still burning in each state on Monday morning.

Image: Smoke and dust from eastern Australia being carried over the Tasman and Coral Seas on Sunday, September 8th. Source: NASA Terra/MODIS

The persistent flow of westerly component winds during the last four days caused copious smoke to flow out across the western Pacific Ocean.

Image: Smoke and dust from eastern Australia being carried over the Tasman and Coral Seas on Monday, September 9th. Source: NASA Terra/MODIS

Some of this smoke has made it all the way to New Zealand's North Island, after travelling along the northern flank of the low pressure system centred over the Tasman Sea.

High resolution images from the Himawari-8 satellite showed a mass of smoke passing to the north of New Zealand on Monday. As this was happening, active fires continued to pump out plumes of smoke in northeast NSW. Amid these fires, three Watch and Act alerts were in place near Armidale, Tenterfield and Yamba at midday on Monday. 

Image: Bushfire smoke passing north of New Zealand and emanating from active fires in eastern Australia on Monday, September 9th. Source: RAMMB/CIRA

In addition to smoke, blustery winds also whipped up dry topsoil across eastern Australia during the last four days. Some of this dust has since ended up in the western Pacific Ocean and some is being carried over far north Queensland today.

The migration of smoke and dust across continents and oceans is not a new phenomenon. However, contemporary satellite imagery and computer technology allows us to witness these events in more detail than ever before.

The latest information on bushfires in eastern Australia can be found at the following links:

QLD - https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/

NSW - https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/