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Fromm, M., Tupper, A., Poole, L., Servranckx, R., Bevilacqua, R., and Rosenfeld, D. (2003). Stratospheric Smoke Down Under: Injection From Australian Fires/Convection in January 2003. Eos Trans. AGU, 84(46), Fall Meet. Suppl. 2003, Abstract # A11C-05

In January 2003, the Australian Capital Territory suffered prolonged, extreme, and devastating bush and forest fires. On at least three distinct occasions, some of these fires erupted into convectively driven/aided firestorms producing plumes that traveled several thousand km. One in particular, a January 18 blowup, resulted in an aerosol plume tracked by TOMS aerosol index across South America, into the South Atlantic (fully one half way around the Earth) in one week. Soon after these blowups, SAGE III aerosol extinction profiles (at approximately 35 deg. S) recorded layers of enhanced aerosol at potential temperatures as high as 400 K, well into the lower stratosphere. POAM III also recorded stratospheric aerosol layers in mid-February at its measurement latitude near 70 deg. S. We explore the Australian blowups with meteorological data and an assemblage of satellite views, including the above mentioned, MODIS, SeaWiFS, MISR, and AVHRR, and GMS. We find that the setup conditions, forcing, and extreme pyro-cumulonimbus (pyro-Cb) eruption leading to stratospheric intrusion are quite similar to boreal forest fire blowups described by Fromm et al. [ GRL, 2000] and Fromm and Servranckx [GRL, 2003]. Our report will include a cloud analysis, comparing an Australian pyro-Cb to a volcanic convective plume. Our monitoring of the summer 2003 Australian fires and smoke also revealed a high-altitude plume of aerosol (highlighted by TOMS aerosol index) ejected/detrained from a convective tower in northern Queensland (18 deg. S) on February 4, perhaps a direct observation of UTLS-level aerosol transport through a specific convective cell at low latitude.

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Updated: 14-Jan-2005