Wellington [New Zealand], Jan 2 (ANI): Snow and glaciers in New Zealand have turned caramel brown after being exposed to dust and ash from the Australian bushfires, with one expert fearing this could increase the risk of them melting faster this year.
Scientists reportedly said that the ash which fell on the pristine snow this week from 1900km away across the Tasman Sea could absorb more heat and melt snow faster this summer, as one climate disaster accelerates another.
Satellite pictures snapped earlier today showed smoke from the fires in New South Wales and Victoria crossing the Tasman Sea and the North Island of New Zealand, CNN reported.
Pictures and videos taken on New Year's Day show that the yellow haze had discoloured the snowy mountain peaks and glaciers in the Southern Alps.
New Zealand's former prime minister Helen Clark tweeted that the impact of Australian ash on glaciers "is likely to accelerate melting."
"How one country's tragedy has spillover effects: Australian bushfires have created a haze in New Zealand with particular impact on the south of the South Island yesterday & now spreading more widely. Impact of ash on glaciers is likely to accelerate melting," Clark said on Twitter.
People in other parts of New Zealand's South Island woke up on New Year's Day to skies turning an eerie yellow, orange and grey from the bushfires.
While it is too early to say exactly how the particles will affect the glaciers in New Zealand, scientists had similarly found that forest fires in the Amazon have caused glaciers in the Andes mountains to melt faster, with pollutants such as black carbon and dust lodged in the ice.
New Zealand has more than 3000 glaciers that are fast disappearing. Many have shrunk by nearly a third since the 1970s and could be gone by the end of the century.
A "megafire" the size of greater Sydney that is currently raging on the northwestern outskirts of the New South Wales capital is likely to burn for weeks, authorities told the local media.
Sydney hospitals reported a 25 per cent rise in emergency cases last week with many of them patients suffering from smoke-related breathing problems. (ANI)