Smoke from fires devastating US West Coast reaches Europe, satellite data shows

Smoke from the fires devastating swathes of the US West Coast has reached as far as Europe, the European Union's climate monitoring service said Wednesday in its assessment of the "unprecedented" blazes.

Satellite data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) showed that the wildfires currently raging across California, Oregon and Washington State are "tens to hundreds of times more intense" than the recent average.

Thanks to strong pressure systems, the smoke from the fires was trapped along the western part of North America for days, making for potentially dangerous air quality in major cities such as Portland, Oregon and Vancouver and San Francisco.

But the weather shifted on Monday, carrying the smoke east along the jet stream. The site NY Metro Weather said Tuesday that it was visible in the skies above New York.

CAMS said that it had tracked the long-range transport of smoke particles from the fires as far as 8,000 kilometres to the east -- reaching northern Europe.

It estimated that the blazes, which are significantly more likely to occur as the planet warms, have spewed out more than 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since mid-August.

"The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers" since 2003, said Mark Parrington, CMAS senior scientist and wildfire expert. "The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8000 kilometres away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration."

- Climate link -

The blazes have already burned nearly five million acres (two million hectares) across the US West, torching an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, with fears the death toll of 35 may rise.

The disaster has brought the issue of global warming to the forefront of US political discourse a matter of weeks ahead of the presidential election.

While it has been historically difficult to prove the link between individual extreme weather events and climate change, there is a growing body of evidence showing blazes such as those in the US could not be so intense and widespread without the 1C of warming humanity has caused during the industrial age.

In general, climate change has been proven to amplify droughts that dry out regions, creating ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out-of-control and inflict unprecedented material and environmental damage.

Using a growing area of research known as "attribution science", experts concluded that the wildfires that struck eastern Australia earlier this year were made at least 30 percent more likely due to global warming.

Similar articles

  • WHO team to start Wuhan virus probe after quarantine’s end

    WHO team to start Wuhan virus probe after quarantine’s end

    The quarantine came to an end on Thursday for a team of World Health Organization (WHO) researchers in China hoping to learn more about the origins of Covid-19, meaning they can get down to work, dpa reported. China had required that the team spend a 14-day quarantine period in a hotel before they could begin their investigations in the city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have crossed from animals to humans in 2019.

    27
  • Facebook will stop recommending political groups

    Facebook will stop recommending political groups

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday announced that the company will no longer recommend civic and political groups to its users, news wires reported. He also said that the company is now considering steps to reduce the amount of political content that users see in their News Feed. The change comes in the wake of the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January.

    26