I am an airline pilot in Australia who flies throughout Australia almost every day of the week.
Although it is normally an amazing view from my “office” the terrible bushfires over the past month have caused severe devastation on an unprecedented level. Now a national emergency, the fires have estimated to have wiped out half a billion animals.
Pyrocumulus around Western Sydney, NSW
Thick, billowing smoke can be seen from hundreds of kilometers away, with reduced visibility in some airports slowing aircraft arrivals and in some cases diversions due to lack of visibility required for landing.
Over the past month or so, I have been taking photos of the pyrocumulus clouds which result from these bushfires as we fly past.
Smoke blowing 100’s of Kilometers out to sea towards New Zealand as we fly past Port Macquarie, NSW
Approaching Sydney from Uluru. Notice the distinction in layers between the smoke and cloud convection
Pyrocumulus clouds occur when the ask and other particles from smoke rise through the atmosphere through extreme convection from the fire below and reach the “convection level” which is where the air cannot hold any more humidity the moisture in the atmosphere condenses and forms clouds
The particles and ash from these fires allow the moisture to condense more readily from increased condensation nuclei, which form these thick clouds.
Purocumulus are very distinguishable, as they are extremely well defined with a dark, smoky bottom then transitioning to the white cloud through the convection layer.