2010-01-14: An aerosol boomerang observed from space.
This rapid circumnavigation is possible because pyro-convection, lofting by a passing cold-front in combination with the latent heat of the fires, injected the smoke plume high into the free troposphere where it was picked up by the jet-stream and started its high-speed journey. The high altitude of the plume is essential for this event; because of the strong winds and because the very low humidity in this region of the troposphere makes the aerosol particles in the plume less prone to removal by rain-out.
We determined the plume's altitude using the OMI O2-O2 cloud retrieval algorithm and the CALIOP spaceborne LIDAR to be around 10 km. We could quite accurately simulate the observed transport of the plume with the TM4 Chemical Transport Model (CTM). As CTM's typically don't include processes like pyro-convection, the injection height has to be prescribed. We found that an injection height of 248 hPa (10 km) best describes the observed transport. Please read more in Dirksen et al. 2009.