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NASA's CALIPSO Satellite Animation Shows Smoke from Australian Fires, Spreading High and Far East

The animation shows RGB color images from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite for December 31, 2019 through January 5, 2020. A plume of brown smoke extends from the southeastern coast of Australia, over the Tasman Sea and beyond into the Pacific Ocean.

The overlaid vertical cross sections show CALIPSO lidar observations for these same days. The bright colors indicate the presence of small particles (aerosols) and the white color indicates clouds. Visible in each of the cross sections near 40 degrees south is a thick layer of smoke from the fires at altitudes above 9 miles (14.5 km). The dark shading below these layers is due to the absence of lidar signals below the opaque smoke layers. These layers contain very small particles and have optical properties similar to smoke.

The sequence of CALIPSO and MODIS tracks in the animation indicates the continued transport of the smoke layer to the east. As of Jan. 5, 2020, smoke was detected more than 4,000 miles from the source.

Credit: NASA Langley