June 23, 2008

Unhealthy PM2.5 Air Quality in Northern California Due to Widespread Wildfires

The big story today is unhealthy PM2.5 conditions in northern California due to widespread wildfires. Lightening strikes on Saturday ignited over 700 fires that have consumed more than 40,000 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times. As Ray reported yesterday, smoke from the fires is causing very high PM2.5 levels in northern California. The image below on the left shows the 20:00 UTC hourly AQI readings for California overlaid with today’s MODIS Terra true color image. Smoke from the wildfires is evident across California in the satellite imagery. PM2.5 is in the Code Red range in the Sacramento metropolitan area, while Code Orange PM2.5 conditions are scattered throughout the Central Valley and the San Francisco metropolitan region. The Hazard Mapping System (HMS) Fire and Smoke Product (below on the right) illustrates the extent of smoke associated with the fires in California.

Today’s MODIS Terra true color image from the AERONET Moss Landing region (below on left) shows a clear view of the widespread smoke plumes across California. The corresponding MODIS Terra AOD image from Region 9 (below on right) illustrates the very high AOD readings from the smoke plumes.

The 48-hour MODIS/NAM aerosol trajectory forecast (shown below) indicates that particulates from the California wildfires will remain relatively localized over the region over the next 24 hours, which will likely keep air quality in at least the Code Orange range on Tuesday.

Update: Below is the CALIPSO overpass from Monday showing the smoke particulates in California at approximately 40 °N latitude. The figure on the left is a map of the satellite overpass, and the figure on the right is the 532 nm total attenuated backscatter measurement as a function of altitude and latitude/longitude.

Posted by Amy Huff at June 23, 2008 6:55 PM
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