Smoke from Fires in Asia and Alaska

Smoke from Fires in Asia and Alaska

30 July 2009

Intense fires burning in the boreal forests of northern Asia and North America routinely send up plumes of smoke that darken skies many kilometers away. By the end of July 2009, large fires were burning in both Russia and Alaska. This image tracks the smoke from those fires by illustrating the concentration of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.

20-26 July 2009

The image was made with data collected by the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite between 20 July and 26 July 2009. Spots of red show where carbon monoxide concentrations were high, while orange areas point to moderate concentrations. Gray regions indicate places where no measurements were made. The highest concentrations of carbon monoxide are centered over large fire complexes in Russia. Fires in Alaska were also pumping carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon monoxide is a component of smoke that can be tracked long after the smoke has dispersed enough to no longer be visible. Carbon monoxide helps reveal where smoke’s other invisible fine particles and polluting gases end up. These invisible particles and gases, including carbon monoxide, are ingredients in the production of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant.

(source: earth observatory)

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