'Smoke from Australian fires will not have direct impact on Nepal'

Published On: January 18, 2020 09:24 AM NPT By: Aditi Baral

KATHMANDU, Jan 18: Amid forecast of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that the smoke from Australia's fires will make a full circuit around the world, there are concerns around the world if this would leave impact on other countries as well. Meteorologists and atmospheric scientists in Nepal, however, say there is no need to panic although there are some chances of receiving slightly visible effects in the sky over this Himalayan nation should the fire keep on razing at a dangerous pace. 

According to the Metrological Forecasting Division (MFD), there has been no impact of the Australian bushfires on Nepal so far.  “Large scale phenomena like Australian bushfires definitely will cause perilous global effects and impact on the global climate. But countries like Nepal that lie far away from the affected region may not be affected directly. However, we might experience less or negligible impact due to climate change that these fires could bring about,” said meteorologist Shanti Kandel at the MFD.

Although there has been slight relief with relatively cooler condition and slight rainfall in Australia, reports show that more than 100 fires are still burning in some states like New South Wales and Victoria in Australia. 

A recent statement by NASA said that the smoke produced by the Australian fires will make a full circuit around the globe. Satellite images have also shown clouds of smoke formed by the fires traveling beyond the continent, with possibilities of creating their own weather in the form of massive thunderstorms that can later create new fires.

“The smoke from Australian fire will have visible effects in counties of the eastern and western regions but it is less likely to affect countries in the north. So, Nepal will not be affected,” said Senior Atmospheric Scientist at ICIMOD Arnico Kumar Panday.

The Australian fire aggravated by climate change has been razing for several months now, prompting global outcry. Unimaginable causalities have been caused by this phenomenon with the burning of an estimated 10 million hectares (100,000 sq km or 15.6 million acres) of bush, forest and parks across Australia. It has also caused an estimated death of one billion animals, death of more than two dozen people including four firefighters and destruction of over 1,400 homes.

As per the reports provided by NASA's research center, the smoke from these fires  have somewhat already traveled halfway around Earth, causing haze in the skies of South America and bringing changes to the color gradient of dusk and down. It has also greatly impacted the air quality levels of neighboring nation New Zealand along with reflecting changes in the color patterns of sunrise and sunset.

However, scientists predict that the smoke from the Australian fires might lead to the formation of heavy clouds and rainfall in Nepal. “We might experience gloomy days and excessive rainfall as an impact of the smoke travelling from the Australian fires,” Panday further explained. 

While the increasing trend of wildfire in recent years has become a serious concern across the world, Nepal itself witnesses about thousands of forest fires every year. According to a report prepared on Wildfire Dynamics in Nepal, the overall recorded wildfire incidences were 35,374 and the burnt area was 1,723,920 hectares from 2000 to 2016. Most of these fires are caused by a long dry spell, windy weather and discarded cigarettes.

Scientists say these forest fires have been creating major impact on the environment by emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that continue to warm the surrounding, bringing change to the weather patterns in various places. “Although Australian fires do not have direct effects in Nepal, we have small forest fires every year within the nation that also tend to add up to become a strong reason for air pollution” said research scientist Sameer Mani Dixit. 


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