Regional emissions cause for smelly haze

Regional emissions cause for smelly haze

19 March 2007

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Guam — If you woke up this morning to the smell of rotten eggs and hazyskies, your senses weren’t playing tricks on you. It was that pesky haze thatonce again, smothered the island of Guam. But where does this haze come from andwhy does it keep coming back? We sought out the wisdom of the National WeatherService to find out.

NWS senior forecaster Carl McElroy says the haze probably has more than oneorigin. “There’s two causes – one of them is from the Anatahan volcano,we’re getting some emissions from that and some of it is from far away fromSoutheast Asia. There’s some fires there and some industrial pollution that’sbeing carried eastward over the Pacific and then southwestward toward us in thetradewinds, so we have two components to the haze.” Anatahan did indeedspew out a plume of smoke as seen in satellite imagery taken yesterday.

McElroy says wind conditions have to be just right in order to blow a smallplume of smoke south to Guam. McElroy says this is why the National WeatherService believes that fires caused by slash and burn farming in Indonesia, aswell as industrial pollution from Asia have been contributing to Guam’s hazyconditions. “China has a lot of coal fire plants and that puts out a lot ofsoot and smoke, and that tends to make the skies hazy as well,” addedMcElroy.

Slash-n-burn agriculture happens usually around this time of year during thespringtime when farmers are clearing land for their crops. This massive burningis also noticeable by satellite. So with the fires in Indonesia occurring yearlyduring springtime and the increasing amount of industrial pollution coming fromChina McElroy says we can probably expect these hazy conditions to become ayearly seasonal event.

“As Asia becomes increasingly industrialized,” he projected, “Iwould expect the haze to be as thick or thicker within the coming years.”

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