Moderate PM2.5 concentrations were reached today in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Great Lakes and the Great Plains (top left). Moderate levels were also reached in Southern California and Northwest for some hours. In addition to the moderate concentrations in the northeast region OMI reported high NO2 concentrations. According to the flour dust report from Alaska, today HMS indicated that a glacial flour dust storm continued today emanating from the southwest corner of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. A secondary area of glacial dust was observed originating from Yakutat Bay. Both of these areas of dust extended west-southwest into the Gulf of Alaska.
Earth Observatory published a nice picture (bottom left) showing the layers of atmosphere along Earth's limb and the exhaust trails from the Soyuz rocket (bottom right) that lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan two days ago. At the time, the International Space Station (ISS) was passing over northeastern China, and the photographer was looking back to the west.
The plumes bent and curled in different directions, most likely due to winds blowing in different directions as the spacecraft made its way both horizontally across the sky and vertically through several atmospheric layers. The Soyuz passed through the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, and into the thermosphere. Rocket trails can last for minutes to hours and reside high enough in the atmosphere that they will often remain lit well after the Sun is below the horizon. Some people believe that this is a signal of the end of the world in 2012 as predicted by the Mayans.