Smoke From Ravaging US Wildfires Made It to Europe, Satellite Data Shows
Smoke rising from the devastating wildfires across much of the U.S. West Coast made it all the way to Europe, reported the European Union's climate monitoring service on Wednesday as it analyzed the harrowing effects of this "unprecedented" blaze.
Smoke from US wildfires made it all the way to Europe
Satellite data amassed via the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) show that the California-, Oregon-, and Washington State-based wildfires ravaging their way across the American countryside are "tens to hundreds of times more intense" than the recent average, reports phys.org.
Strong pressure systems had trapped the smoke from the fires along the west coast of North America for days — creating uncomfortably bad air quality in major cities like San Fransico, Vancouver, and Portland.
However, this changed when the weather shifted on Monday and carried the smoke eastward across the continent via the jet stream. The NY Metro Weather said on Tuesday that the smoke was visible in the skies of New York.
California wildfires spewed more than 33 million tons CO2
CAMS also said it had tracked the long-distance motion of smoke particles from the fires up to 4,970 miles (8,000 km) — making it to northern Europe.
The agency estimates the blazes — which are substantially more likely to happen as the Earth warms — have ejected more than 33 million tons (30 million metric tonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) 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 CMAS Senior Scientist and wildlife exert Mark Parrington, according to phys.org.
"The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8,000 kilometers [nearly 5,000 miles] away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration," he added.
Wildfires linked to climate crisis
The blazing wildfires have already burned nearly five million acres throughout the west coast area, incinerating an area roughly the size of New Jersey — with many fearing a death toll rising above the current 35-person tally.
This disaster has brought the climate crisis into sharper focus in the U.S. political discourse weeks before the upcoming presidential election.
A growing body of evidence suggests these blazes are too intense to have happened without the 1°C of warming human civilization has wrought on the world's environment amid the industrial age.
Climate change has already been linked to more intense droughts — which dry regions out enough to provide ideal wildfire conditions on unprecedented scales, with intimidating material and environmental damage.
As the world warms, we should expect major catastrophes like the wildfires along the west coast of the U.S. and Canada to become more likely.