Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Smoke From West Coast Wildfires Reaches East Coast, Europe

Climate
Smoke From West Coast Wildfires Reaches East Coast, Europe
A satellite image shows smoke spreading from wildfires in the Western U.S. on Sept. 11, 2020. NOAA / NASA

The smoke from the wildfires devastating the West Coast of the U.S. has reached as far away as Europe, officials said Wednesday.


The EU's climate tracking body, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), said it had detected smoke from the fires over Northern Europe, 8,000 kilometers (approximately 4,970 miles) away from its origin, as an AFP story published by France24 reported.

"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," CAMS senior scientist Mark Parrington said in a press release.

CAMS said smoke from the fires first reached Europe last week and is expected to do so again at the end of this week.

Climate researcher Geert Jan van Oldenborgh tweeted Sept. 11 that the smoke had been observed in Holland.

"The smoke from the western US wildfires has even reached the Netherlands..., turning the sky [grey] instead of blue," he wrote.

In its report Wednesday, CAMS also gave an account of the scale of the fires themselves. It said fire activity was ten to hundreds times more intense this year than for the U.S. average from 2003 to 2019. Blazes in Oregon and California also emitted more carbon pollution this year than at any time since record-keeping began. So far, they have released more than 30 million tonnes (approximately 33 million U.S. tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since mid-August, AFP reported.

"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," Parrington told CNN.

The heaviest smoke from the fires was trapped over the Western U.S. for days, CAMS noted, choking Pacific cities with the worst air quality in the world. But a change in the weather Monday began to move the smoke east along the jet stream, according to AFP. In the Eastern U.S., Boston, New York and Maine have all reported smoky, hazy conditions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Satellite images this morning show smoke aloft moving over much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic," the Baltimore-Washington office of the National Weather Service tweeted Tuesday. "This smoke is obscuring the sun, and will keep temperatures a few degrees cooler today than what would be observed if the smoke was not present."

But just because some of the smoke is moving doesn't mean the West Coast can breathe easy. Portland, OR still had the worst air quality in the world Wednesday morning, according to rankings from IQAir.

The fires themselves also continue to rage. There were 87 burning in 11 states as of Tuesday, CNN reported. So far, the fires have claimed 25 lives in California. In Oregon, as of Tuesday, 10 people had died and 22 were missing.

In California, fires have scorched more than 3.2 million acres, the most on record, burned at least 4,200 structures and displaced more than 60,000 people. Across the West, the flames have consumed nearly five million acres, an area roughly the size of New Jersey, AFP pointed out.

The climate crisis makes larger, intense wildfires more likely because higher temperatures worsen the drought conditions that feed them.

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch