The year 2020 will be remembered as a very trying year and Western wildlife has added to the woes of the year. So far in 2020, California has experienced 7,606 fires and those fires have consumed 2.3 million acres. Washington and Oregon have also been hit by wildfires. More than 300,000 acres are reported to be burning. Four of Oregon’s cities have been mostly destroyed by forest devastation. The city of Malden in Washington was also destroyed. And Nick Nausler, a wildfire meteorologist at the National Intergency Fire Center, tweeted that the US has not seen wildfire activity at this level since the “Big Bloop” of 1910.
In the images above, the top image shows the areas (marked in red) where wildfires are currently burning in the west. Abundant amounts of smoke circulate the coast and the Pacific Ocean. The second image, however, shows the actual story of the threat from smoke. Detection is done in terms of the thickness and height of the atmospheric aerosol layer using the OMPS (Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite) instrument aerosol. For most atmospheric events involving aerosols, AI ranges from 0.0 (colorless through light yellow, yellow, orange and red) to 5.0 (dark red), with 5.0 indicating heavy concentrations of aerosol. Visibility or impact can reduce health. High aerosol concentrations can not only affect the climate and reduce visibility, they can also affect breathing, reproduction, the cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system, according to the US EPA. Since aerosols are able to remain suspended in the atmosphere and are carried in high-altitude air currents, they can travel great distances from their source and their effects rotate according to the image found below.
Smoke released by any type of fire (burning a forest, brush, crop, structure, tire, waste or wood) is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All fumes contain carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter (PM or soot). Smoke can contain many different chemicals including aldehydes, Acid Gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, toluene, stylins, metals and dioxins. The type and amount of particles and chemicals in smoke depends on what is burning, how much oxygen is available and the temperature burned.
Exposure to high levels of smoking should be avoided as evidence in these wildfires. Individuals are advised to limit their physical exertion if exposure to high levels of smoke cannot be avoided. Individuals with heart or respiratory conditions (eg, asthma), fetuses, infants, young children, and the elderly may be more susceptible to the health effects of smoking exposure.
Residents of these areas notice that the sunset will be much red and more orange for a while. reason? The shape of the smoke particles is only correct for filtering other colors which means that red, pink and orange colors can be seen more clearly in the sky. Long-term smokers are more likely to form orange and red sunsets.
NASAThe Earth Observation System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the ability to browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it “looks” right now. The actively burning fire, detected by the thermal band, is shown as red dots. Image courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).