• Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

Dimancherouge

Technology

Satellite images show Western fires producing massive clouds of smoke, pollutants

Satellite images taken of the historic wildfires in the West show the shocking amount of smoke and other pollutants affecting areas beyond where the fires are furiously burning.

At least 36 deaths have been linked to the fires in California, Oregon and Washington state.

Nearly three dozen fires were active in Oregon on Monday night, according to state data. About 1 million acres have already burned, double the average of around 500,000 during an entire wildfire season, the Oregon Congressional delegation said.

In California, the largest blaze in modern state history, the massive August Complex Fire, had burned more than 755,600 acres in Northern California and was only 30 percent contained as of Monday. That fire was started by lightning last month.

Maxar Technologies released on Tuesday satellite images collected at a steep angle of the clouds billowing off the roaring fire.

Fires burning near Big Signal Peak in the Mendocino National Forest in California, part of the August Complex Fire, on Sept. 14. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies)
Fires burning near Big Signal Peak in the Mendocino National Forest in California, part of the August Complex Fire, on Sept. 14. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies)

Last week, another satellite image taken by NASA showed the smoke streaming from the fires in Oregon and California. NASA said the smoke was so thick, it could be seen from 1 million miles away. On Monday, the National Weather Service said the smoke was spreading as far as the East Coast, affecting even New York City skies.

Thick smoke streams from intense fires in Oregon and California on Sept. 9. The smoke was so thick and widespread that it was easily visible 1 million miles away from Earth. (NASA Earth Observatory)
Thick smoke streams from intense fires in Oregon and California on Sept. 9. The smoke was so thick and widespread that it was easily visible 1 million miles away from Earth. (NASA Earth Observatory)

NASA is also capturing a high aerosol index over the U.S. as a result of the fires. The red in these images from Sunday show the highest aerosol levels, which can impact health conditions.

The high aerosol index over the U.S. as a result of fires in the western U.S. on Sept. 13. Red areas indicate heavy concentrations of aerosols that could reduce visibility or impact human health. (NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite)
The high aerosol index over the U.S. as a result of fires in the western U.S. on Sept. 13. Red areas indicate heavy concentrations of aerosols that could reduce visibility or impact human health. (NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite)

Carbon monoxide levels are also increasing as a result of the fires, according to NASA imagery taken between Sept. 6 and Sept. 14.

“Released by the fires along with smoke and ash, carbon monoxide is a pollutant that can persist in the atmosphere for about a month and can be transported great distances,” according to NASA. “At the high altitude mapped in these images, the gas has little effect on the air we breathe; however, strong winds can carry it downwards to where it can significantly impact air quality. Carbon monoxide plays a role in both air pollution and climate change.”

The carbon monoxide plume, blown by the jet stream, has also reached the East Coast and Atlantic Ocean.

This visualization shows a three-day average of carbon monoxide concentrations, from Sept. 6 to 14, 2020, in the atmosphere over California due to wildfires. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)
This visualization shows a three-day average of carbon monoxide concentrations, from Sept. 6 to 14, 2020, in the atmosphere over California due to wildfires. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

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