Smoke from wildfires in Australia has drifted across the Pacific and affected cities in South America, and may have reached the Antarctic, said the UN World Meteorological Organization.
Smoke from the fires had already turned skies bright orange over Auckland in New Zealand.
But skies as far away as over central Chile and Buenos Aires have now gone grey because of the smoke.
“We can see the presence of smoke in Argentina. This smoke comes from the fires that have been occurring in Australia since September,” said meteorologist Cindy Fernandez with Argentina’s National Meteorological Service. “We expect that almost all of the national territory will have the presence of smoke.”
The fires, which have raged for months in Australia, have already emitted 400 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and produced harmful pollutants, the EU’s Copernicus monitoring programme said on Monday.
“All of these fires generate a large amount of carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that most contributes to climate change. So we end up in an endless cycle in which fires generate carbon dioxide that generate more climate change, more favorable conditions for outbreaks of fire, more fires, more carbon dioxide. And we can’t get out of this cycle,” explained Fernandez.
According to the Copernicus programme, brown sooty deposits have already been reported on glaciers in New Zealand, potentially accelerating the rate at which they are melting.