Smoke from the U.S. West Coast travels east and overseas

Smoke from the wildfires made its way to the other side of the country and over the ocean. Using data from NOAA, Reuters animated the smoke clouds over time:

With climate change expected to exacerbate fires in the future, by worsening droughts and warming surface ocean temperatures, wildfire research is becoming especially important. Over the last year, the world has seen record fires in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Siberia and now the U.S. West.

“I’m concerned that we are starting to see these phenomena more often … everywhere in the world,” Gassó said. “If it’s one year like this, it’s fine, as long as it doesn’t keep repeating itself like this.”

Uh oh.

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Fire and smoke map

With the rush of wildfires in California, governor Gavin Newsom declared (another) state of emergency. The Fire and Smoke Map from the U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency provides a picture of where we’re currently at. The map incorporates data from a variety of sensors across the country:

The sensor data comes from PurpleAir, which crowdsources data from that company’s particle pollution sensors and shows the data on a map. Before the sensor data appear on the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map, EPA and USFS apply both a scientific correction equation to mitigate bias in the sensor data, and the NowCast, the algorithm to show the data in the context of the Air Quality Index.

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