The 2019/20 Australian wildfires generated a persistent smoke-charged vortex rising up to 35 km altitude - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Communications Earth & Environment Year : 2020

The 2019/20 Australian wildfires generated a persistent smoke-charged vortex rising up to 35 km altitude

Abstract

The Australian bushfires around the turn of the year 2020 generated an unprecedented perturbation of stratospheric composition, dynamical circulation and radiative balance. Here we show from satellite observations that the resulting planetary-scale blocking of solar radiation by the smoke is larger than any previously documented wildfires and of the same order as the radiative forcing produced by moderate volcanic eruptions. A striking effect of the solar heating of an intense smoke patch was the generation of a self-maintained anticyclonic vortex measuring 1000 km in diameter and featuring its own ozone hole. The highly stable vortex persisted in the stratosphere for over 13 weeks, travelled 66,000 km and lifted a confined bubble of smoke and moisture to 35 km altitude. Its evolution was tracked by several satellite-based sensors and was successfully resolved by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts operational system, primarily based on satellite data. Because wildfires are expected to increase in frequency and strength in a changing climate, we suggest that extraordinary events of this type may contribute significantly to the global stratospheric composition in the coming decades.
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Dates and versions

hal-02865306 , version 1 (11-06-2020)
hal-02865306 , version 2 (21-08-2020)
hal-02865306 , version 3 (29-12-2021)

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Sergey Khaykin, Bernard Legras, Silvia Bucci, Pasquale Sellitto, Lars Isaksen, et al.. The 2019/20 Australian wildfires generated a persistent smoke-charged vortex rising up to 35 km altitude. Communications Earth & Environment, 2020, 1, pp.22. ⟨10.1038/s43247-020-00022-5⟩. ⟨hal-02865306v3⟩
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