August 14, 2012

Fires across most of the Western part of The U.S. High ozone levels in California, high temps not helping.

The first image below, courtesy NOAA HMS, shows the fire locations across the United States. The red dots correspond to active fires, and the grey areas are plumes. The largest plumes are continuously stretching from the Northwest to the Northeast regions of the country. The HMS is not picking up many fires in Canada, so for the first time in a few weeks the fires may be settling in Central Canada. The same cannot be said about the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. There are many fires that are pouring large amounts of smoke and debris into the lower atmosphere. There is also some fire activity in the Mississippi Valley. The animation below, courtesy GASP EAST, shows the AOD loop for the country today. You can see that most of these raised values correspond to more optically thick areas, which correspond to the fires and smoke debris throughout the nation.

The first image below shows the animation loop for EPA AIRNOW AQI values for the Pacific Southwest region. Large smoke and fire debris mixed with large amounts of ozone made for plenty of Code Reds. Additionally, higher temperatures and sunlight (above 100 F, and cloud coverage < 10%) fueled this increase in ozone. One site, in San Bernardino, topped the AQI charts for ozone today, with values reaching over 100 ppb.

The first image below shows the UMBC ELF 532 Total attenuated backscatter lidar profile for 14:30-04:30 UTC. There are light layers aloft between 4 and 6 km that are stronger in the afternoon (15:00 UTC) and then begin to fade into thinner layers. The capping boundary layer has trapped most of the aerosols causing this strong separation in signal. Later in the image, at 4:00 UTC, temperatures cool off and a layers begin to reach the surface. Rain restricted us from running the lidars and capturing more of the dynamics of this event. The Hysplit Back-Trajectory below shows that the layers aloft in Baltimore, were most likely due to Pacific Northwest fires and smoke.

The image below shows the CALIPSO lidar 532 Total Attenuated Backscatter image with an overpass over the Northeast region, emphasizing the PM 2.5 amounts and altitudes. There are large amounts of aerosols in the first few kilometers that are due to the wildfires in those coordinates. The large thick layer near 3 km centered around (60.00,-75.00) is right in the center of a Canadian plume. The various debris around (30,-86) is through the southeast U.S. There is also a light layer ~10 km (70.00, -65.00) that may be a thin cloud or a light layer or smoke aloft.

Posted by John Sullivan at August 14, 2012 7:44 PM
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