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The sun rises through the smoke from Australia's bushfires over New Brighton Beach in Christchurch, New Zealand on Wednesday. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Australia's wildfires are so intense that smoke from the blazes has traveled over 1,200 miles to blanket parts of New Zealand's South Island, and images show it's turned the country's white glaciers in the Southern Alps brown.

Why it matters: Monash University professor Andrew Mackintosh, the former director of the Antarctic Research Centre, said in almost 20 years of studying the glaciers, he'd "never seen such a quantity of dust transported across the Tasman," and he estimated the bushfires could potentially "increase this season's glacier melt by 20–30%," per the Guardian.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

What they're saying: "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," Mackintosh told the Guardian. "It is concerning to me to see so much material being deposited on the glaciers."

  • Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke tweeted her concern about the effects of the smoke, ash and dust on the glaciers.
"How one country's tragedy has spillover effects: Australian bushfires have created 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."

The big picture: New Zealand's MetService said the smoke could "clearly be seen over the lower South Island," with visibility in the smoke haze as low as low as six miles in the worst affected areas.

  • By Thursday afternoon local time, much of the smoke had dispersed but sunset "may still have a tinge of orange" to it in some parts of the country, the national forecaster said in a tweet.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper: Australia fires: Race to evacuate thousands before conditions worsen

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.

3 hours ago - Health

Student's death renews calls for schools to stock opioid overdose drug

Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Connecticut student's death has renewed calls for schools to stock and administer naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Why it matters: U.S. drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period for the first time in November, and synthetic or natural opioids were the cause of a majority of the overdoses.

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