US Wildfire Smoke Reaches Europe

The extensive amount of thick smoke emitted by the wildfires that have continuously devastated some parts of the US has already reached Northern Europe at the end of last week. According to CAMS( Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service) data and satellite images, while the heaviest smoke remained for several days off the West Coast over the Pacific Ocean, it began to blow across Canada, the Atlantic Ocean and Northern Europe and will continue to do so in the coming days.

Read: Wildfire Wipes Out 80% of Malden, Washington

The Washington Post: In addition to playing the role of a climate change feedback, a much broader impact of the flames has been unhealthy air quality

Screenshot from The Washington Post

In an email from Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS, he mentioned that transport of smoke of such high altitude from North America and Europe is commonly seen once or twice a year with wildfires in British Colombia, not in the United States.

In a news release reported in The Washington Post, Parrington stated that “the scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than in any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers, since 2003” 

In addition to playing the role of a climate change feedback, a much broader impact of the flames has been unhealthy air quality, with days of noxious pale to orange-tinged skies hovering near ground level across the west. The smoke was so thick and unhealthy that Alaska Airlines, whose pilots and ground crews are used to operating in the most intense storms in the Aleutians and Alaskan Arctic, stopped flights to Portland, Ore., Monday in the interest of its workers’ health.

Screenshot from Copernicus ECMWF Twitter

CNN: Smoke traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Northern Europe at the end of last week, and is forecast to do so again in the coming days, CAMS said

Screenshot from CNN

The US National Inter-agency Fire Center said Tuesday that at least 87 wildfires were burning in 11 states. Many are filling the sky with choking smoke and pushing firefighters beyond exhaustion, according to a report from CNN.

“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration,” said Parrington.

CNN further reports that according to CAMS, the fires have already emitted an estimated 21.7 megatonnes of carbon in California, 7.3 megatonnes of carbon in Oregon and 1.4 megatonnes of carbon in Washington. Parts of the West Coast now have the worst air quality in the world, according to the air quality monitoring group IQAir.