September 7, 2020, NOAA /NASAThe satellite from the Finnish nuclear power plant offered two different views on how the fires will affect the United States. The image above shows a picture of the United States with real colors. Covering the surface is the covering of smoke from California to Arkansas, where there is also turbidity on the east coast. The satellite from the Finland nuclear power plant also provided information on the aerosols released from these fires, which have passed through the U.S. landscape as shown below.
Although the OMPS series is designed to measure ozone, it also has the ability to measure other atmospheric particles such as sulfur dioxide and ash. The value of the Aerosol Index (AI) is related to both the thickness and the height of the atmospheric aerosol layer. For most atmospheric events involving aerosols, AI ranges from 0.0 to 5.0, and 5.0 indicates high aerosol concentrations that can impair visibility or affect health. Color codes range from colorless (0.0) to yellow (.5-2.6), orange (2.7-3) to deep red (> 3-5.0). This image shows a significant deep red area, which means that aerosols in the area can be hazardous to human health in the area.
Smoke that releases all types of fire (forest, brush, crop, structure, tires, waste, or burning wood) is a mixture of particles and chemicals that results from the incomplete burning of carbonaceous materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particles (particles or soot). Smoke can contain many different chemicals, such as aldehydes, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), benzene, toluene, styrene, metals and dioxins. The type and amount of particles and chemicals in the smoke will vary depending on what is burning, how much oxygen is available, and the combustion temperature.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, high aerosol concentrations can affect the climate and impair visibility, but they can also affect respiration, reproduction, the cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system. Because aerosols can remain suspended in the atmosphere and can be transported in prevailing high wind currents, they can travel long distances from their source, as these images show, and their effects can be delayed.
NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the ability to interactively browse more than 700 layers of global high-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Many of the available image layers will be updated within three hours of observation, and will look essentially the entire globe as it appears “right now.” Actively burning fires detected by thermal bands are displayed as red dots.
Photos: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).