Historic fire wreaks havoc on US Pacific coast

Historic fire wreaks havoc on US Pacific coast

Climate and fire scientists have long speculated that fires in the American West will become larger, more intense and more dangerous. But even the most experienced of them have been at a loss for words to describe the scope and intensity of the fire that burned in the West Coast states in September 2020.

Lightning initially caused many fires, but it was Unusual and extreme weather conditions This turned some of them into the region’s worst conflicts in decades. Record-breaking air temperatures, unusually dry air periods, and fierce wind eruptions – on top of severe drought in some areas – led to fires to destroy forests and vast plains of smoke rarely heights. Saw.

“We had an ideal storm of meteorological factors, which encourages excessive burns,” said Vincent Ambrosia, associate program manager for Wildfire Research at NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences program. “It was layered on top of changing climate patterns – a long-term drying and warming of both air and vegetation – that is contributing to the growing trend we see toward large, high-intensity fires in the US West Are. ”

The manufacture of fuel may be another relevant factor. Human efforts to extinguish the most fires in the last 120 years have led to an increase in old, overgrown forests in the West that burn intensely when caught fire, Amrit explained.

The fire has proved disastrous for people, property and landscape. With more than 3.1 million acres burned by September 11, 2020, the fire has ended California’s record for the number of acres burned in a year. According to KL Fire, six of the top 20 biggest fires in state history occurred in 2020. Authorities attributed more than two dozen deaths to the blaze; Several cities in Oregon and California have suffered severe damage; At least 4,000 houses have been destroyed; And hundreds of thousands of people faced evacuation orders.

The scene of fire from space was unusual and serious. During the outbreak, sensors such as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and the Ozone Mapping and Proiler Suite (OMPS) on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite collected daily images showing broad, thick strips of aerosol particles flying across the US West. Huh. On a scale that satellites and scientists rarely see.

Over the course of several days, OMPS measured a cloud of smoke in the western U.S. with higher values ​​of western aerosols than atmospheric scientist Colin Sefter of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, saying he has never seen with OMPS. for example, 9 September (Image above), a frontal boundary moved across the Great Basin and produced very high downloop winds along the mountains of Washington, Oregon, and California. The winds spewed the fire, while a pyrocumulus cloud from Bayer’s fire in California injected smoke into the atmosphere. The sum of these events was a very blanket of smoke along the West Coast.

A few days ago, on September 7 (picture above), a combined NASA-CNES CALIPSO satellite spotted smoke from an explosive pyrosculus cloud that emerged. Creek fire in California. The cloud blew smoke up to 17 kilometers (10 mi) into the atmosphere, a record of fire in North America and enough to carry smoke across the stratosphere.

All that smoke turns into significant carbon emissions. “According to our estimates, 2020 is the highest year of fire carbon emissions for California in our Global Fire Emissions Database, with data from 1997 to present,” said Douglas Morton, head of the Biospheric Science Laboratory at NASA Goddard. “This year fire emissions take away the annual totals for all other years, and this is only on September 11.”

NASA scientists plan to use this unusual phenomenon to improve the model and forecast of the spread of smoke. “Many of California’s Calpso overpasses over the past few weeks will provide a unique set of observations to validate retrospective fire plume simulations; they can also make a lot of difference in near-real-time applications,” NASA’s Applied Sciences Disasters Program John-Paul Vernier, an atmospheric scientist in the US, explained. “With state-of-the-art satellite observations from CALIPSO, MISR and MODIS. We are doing everything to improve air quality forecasting.”

NASA Earth Observatory images by Ozua Stevens, ozone mapping and coiler suite (OMPS) data and data from NASA EOSDIS / LANCE and GIBS / Worldview and Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, using VIIRS data, CALIPSO data from NASA / CNES and Emission data. Global Fire Emission Database (GFED). Story by Adam Voiland.

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