May 18, 2015

Triple Point over Great Lakes Further Increasing Buildup of Smoke and Sulfates

Aerosol density remains high over the Great Lakes region and Northeast from over the weekend (MODIS Terra, top left). HMS imagery doesn't detect any smoke over these areas, so it's not entirely certain whether or not the smoke from the Canadian or Central American wildfires is behind the elevated AOD in the region. However, you can see over the Great Lakes where the occluded, warm, and cold fronts intersect (NOAA Surface Analysis, top right), causing that instability in the atmosphere and adding onto the aerosol buildup. Another factor could be the high concentration of NO2 through the total column (KNMI OMI, bottom left). The NAAPS Aerosol model (bottom right) predicts both smoke and sulfates to be other causes. The smoke over the Northeast seems to be coming south from the ongoing wildfires in Central America. The massive plume (light to moderate in density) passing through Texas into the Great Lakes region has elevated the AOD in the state.

Wildfires in Canada are also still active, with most of its smoke drifting northwest into British Columbia--mixing in with smoke from other local fires in the area. The smoke is visibly affecting air quality over the region, mostly centered over southern Alberta and northern Montana (see MODIS Terra image). Asian dust might also still be mixing with smoke over the Pacific Northwest, as forecast by the aerosol model.

May 17, 2015

Weekend Edition: Moderate AQI in the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico; Remnant smoke of Central America fires moving North; Mud Lake Complex fires in Florida continue to Burn

Moderate AQI were reported along the Great Lakes states with weather conditions favoring ozone formation, with partial sunshine reaching and temperatures in the lower 80s. Also, smoke was observed in locations in the Ohio River Valley extending southwest to the Western Gulf of Mexico.In the Gulf of Mexico the air quality was also Moderate. In this region remnant smoke from seasonal burning fires in Central America has been moving north. AOD retrievals from the NASA Aqua MODIS sensor indicate that the smoke is contributing, with values in the range of 0.3-0.6.

Smoke from the Mud Fire Complex wildfire in Florida may be contributing as well, as the western peninsula of Florida. Currently, INCIWEB is down, no data is available to know how much of the fire has been contained. The bottom right image is from WTSP, showing one of the fires in this region. Last Tuesday about 15% of the fire was contained.

May 15, 2015

Moderate AQIs West of Appalachians moving North

The EPA AQI loop below at top left shows a large patch of Moderate AQIs moving north from the Mississippi Valley into the Great Lakes region, which may be related to the fires seen in the HMS fire and smoke product at top right or to the smoke and dust noted earlier in the week. The GOES AOD product bottom left shows clouds that interfere with satellite analyses of this aerosol, but the cloud movement and the winds in the NWS surface analysis bottom right indicate that the perception of movement has support, with the winds traveling the correct direction.

May 14, 2015

Smoke in the Gulf of Mexico and Canada

Moderate AQI levels were observed in the Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions (left). According to HMS, a large area of light to medium density smoke mixed with Saharan dust continues to be observed in the western Gulf of Mexico making its way north to the Gulf coast of Texas. The smoke spans from the Gulf of Campeche west and north. The smoke originated from an abundance of agricultural/prescribed burns in Cuba and Central America (right). Moreover, large areas of light to medium density smoke are visible this morning in satellite imagery originating from several Canadian wildfires as well as remnant Asian smoke. The thickest smoke is visible exclusively in British Columbia, moving NW towards the Pacific Ocean. Three other separate plumes farther east are visible affecting Yukon, NW Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut, and Quebec. The plume is moving SE making its way across the border into New England.

May 13, 2015

Smoke over Canada; Moderate AQI in the Gulf of Mexico; Light Remnant Smoke over Baltimore

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product reported a stationary area of residual smoke continues to seen throughout most of western and central Canada. The residual smoke is composed of an elevated optically thin trans-Pacific remnant smoke from Asia and light density smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta. Embedded within this residual smoke, heavy smoke can be seen emanating to the northwest from a wildfire located southwest of Prince George near Little Bobtail Lake in central British Columbia. The smoke is contributing to the AOD over this region, yielding values between 0.2-0.4, according to retrievals from the NASA Aqua MODIS sensor.

Air quality in the US was Moderate along the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern coastline due to smoke from agricultural fires in Mexico and Central America, and Saharan dust impacting PM2.5 concentrations. Lidar observations in Baltimore continue to capture very light remnant smoke aloft at heights no greater than 4 km.The boundary layer reached max heights of 2 km.

May 12, 2015

Fires in North-Central Canada and the Southeast Regions

The MODIS Aqua AOD image, below left, shows values of AOD across the country for today. There appears to be large increases in AOD near the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes, Central Canada and Gulf regions. The largest values are in the Rocky Mountain region. The increase in AOD corresponds to widespread fire activity north of this region. There is also an increase in AOD along the eastern seaboard on the U.S. Below right, courtesy NOAA HMS, indicates the fire and smoke locations across the United States. There is a large concentration of fires near North-Central Canada. The smoke from the Canadian fires and fires within the Plains region will be moving westward throughout the week, possibly impacting air quality in the eastern U.S. There does not appear to be a significant amount of smoke coming from the concentrated fire region in the Southeast.

Below left, the OMI/KNMI NRT Tropospheric NO2 product indicates the largest observed NO2 concentrations in the northeast region. These are likely correlated to urban centers. Below right, courtesy EPA AIRNOW, shows the daily AQI for the U.S. and there were no surface values above code yellow for the day, except for the central border between Nevada and California and southern California. This central Canadian code orange is likely from the smoke in the region. The code yellow in the south eastern U.S. is likely correlated to the scattered wildfires in the region.

May 11, 2015

Tropical Storm Ana Passing Saharan Dust and Remnant Smoke Up the Atlantic Coast

Strong winds from the tropical storm Ana--now classified as a tropical depression--have carried a large aerosol load from the Caribbean along the East coast. The storm can be seen hitting land on the coast of the Carolina's up into Maryland and Delaware (NOAA GOES-EAST, top left). The load is presumed to be Saharan Dust, originally crossing over the Atlantic into the Caribbean and mixing in with remnant smoke from agricultural fires in Mexico and Central America that started in the last few weeks (NOAA HMS, top right). HMS notes the presence of the Saharan dust across much of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and southern Florida. The dust in Florida is also mixing with remnant smoke from prescribed fires yesterday in the state. A band of moderate AQI's can be seen stretching along the Atlantic coast (EPA AirNow, bottom left). Elevated AOD is also noted over the coast down into the Gulf (MODIS Terra bottom right).

More smoke can also be seen in HMS imagery over active fires in southeast Saskatchewan and British Columbia (remnant smoke, light in density, from fires active yesterday but now dormant). Remnant smoke from Asian wildfires (started in the last few weeks) has also played a part in lessening air quality over Canada and the northern US. A large band of aerosols stretching over the Northwest Territories into Montana is most presumably remnant smoke from these fires. These are most likely the cause of high AOD in the region.