New Zealand glaciers change colour due to fires in Australia
Posted on 26/12/2019

EnvironmentNew Zealand

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The New Zealand glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park are beginning to suffer as a result of fires that have been raging in Australia for several weeks. Even though the glaciers are situated more than 2,000 kilometres away, many scientists report that the latter are changing colour.

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The image is shocking. The glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park (in the south of the country) have changed colour from an immaculate white to a mysterious red hue. Blogger and photographer Liz Carlson was able to capture this phenomenon from a helicopter on 28th November.

"After going deep into the park around the Kitchener Glacier, I could really see how red it was, and it was shocking, I've never seen anything like it before," she told CNN. "Often, at the end of summer, glaciers can appear dirty, even grey with all the melting snow and black rock on them, but now we are in the middle of spring, so it was really weird," explains Liz Carlson.

Disastrous consequences for glaciers

Disastrous consequences for glaciers
@Kevin Wells/123RF

This worrying colour could be the result of the fires that are raging through Australia, even though it is more than 2000 kilometres away. Meteorologist Monica Garrett explains that the westerly winds caused the smoke from Australian fires to reach New Zealand. As they fell back, the particles would then have coloured the glaciers.

By covering glaciers, particles released by fires would prevent the glaciers from reflecting light, causing them to melt even faster. This phenomenon has already occurred recently in South America. As a result of fires in the Amazon rainforest, the melting of ice on Andean glaciers has been accelerated.