Kiwis have been shocked in recent weeks to discover their pristine glaciers turning pink, with apocalyptic orange skies covering New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland. So much so that police have been deluged with emergency calls asking what is going on, as the land of the long white cloud is turning pink (kikorangi māwhero). The catastrophic bushfires in Australia have also affected New Zealand. Because of the impact of trans-boundary air pollution (and its effects on other countries), there are legal implications to be considered. The story starts three decades ago, when CSIRO scientist Dr Barrie Pittock and I foreshadowed future climate projections for Australasia because of global warming, with Australia becoming the burning drying continent. We have now arrived at that point. These bushfires lift dust and ash high up into the atmosphere, where they are caught in the strong prevailing westerly winds at those altitudes. The smoke particles are blown 2000km across the Tasman to reach New Zealand and further east. There have been various factors, which have exacerbated the conditions over Australia and had impact downstream on New Zealand’s late spring and early summer climate. The first is the Indian Ocean Dipole, which is like an El Niño/Southern… Read full this story
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