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Discoloured glaciers in New Zealand caused by Australia’s bushfires

New Zealand’s glaciers have fallen victim to the environmental impacts of Australia’s ongoing struggle to contain its devastating bushfires.

As if mirroring the appearance the deserts in Africa, New Zealand’s glaciers and snowcaps have turned brown. The troubling phenomenon is a result of the dust, smoke and ash coming from Australian bushfires. But the changing colour of the glaciers is the least of NZ’s problems. An expert has warned that this could accelerate the already rapid melting of glaciers by around 30%.

Head of Monash University’s school of earth, atmosphere and environment and former Antarctic Research Centre director Professor Andrew Mackintosh had this to say:

“It is quite common for dust to be transported to New Zealand glaciers, but I would say that the amount of transport right now is pretty phenomenal – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”

Speaking to the Guardian he continued, “It is concerning to me to see so much material being deposited on the glaciers.”

According to the professor, discolouration of the glaciers will likely be gone before the year ends. However, if bushfires continue in Australia, “it will be one of the factors that is accelerating the demise of glaciers in New Zealand overall”.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark has echoed Mackintosh’s concern. She shared her sentiments over the negative impact the incident will have on the environment. “Impact of ash on glaciers is likely to accelerate melting,” Clark wrote in a post on Twitter. “How one country’s tragedy has spillover effects.”