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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.

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.

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

Go deeper

37 mins ago - Economy & Business

Boeing gets huge 737 Max order from Ryanair, boosting hope for quick rebound

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway. Photo by Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dublin-based Ryanair said it would add 75 more planes to an existing order for Boeing's 737 Max airplanes, a giant vote of confidence as Boeing seeks to revive sales of its best-selling plane after a 20-month safety ban following two fatal crashes.

The big picture: Ryanair's big order, on the heels of breakthrough vaccine news, is also a promising sign that the devastated airline industry might recover from the global pandemic sooner than expected.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
41 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Trump sets auction for Arctic refuge drilling rights before Biden takes office

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Interior Department on Thursday said it will auction oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in early January.

Why it matters: The procedural step would make it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to thwart drilling in the region, even though any actual development is years away.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney elected chair of House Democrats' campaign arm

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Thursday was elected chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2022 cycle, narrowly defeating Rep. Tony Cardenás (D-Calif.) 119 to 107, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Maloney will be tasked with protecting House Democrats' slim majority in 2022 after they underperformed in November's election, losing seats in down-ballot races across the country.

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