May 16, 2014

Bernardo and surrounding wildfires lead to elevated AOD in Southern California

Looking at the NOAA HMS Smoke and Fire Product (top left), the small red dots indicate groups of fires, while the light grey areas are smoke plumes. The HMS has picked up smoke in and off of the coast of Southern California as a result of fires in the region, particularly the Bernardo fire. Smoke moving south from the agricultural burns in Canada and a small plume near the US/Mexico border from the Skunk wildfire in Arizona were also seen. The MODIS Terra satellite found elevated AOD off the coast of Southern California corresponding to the aforementioned wildfires, while the image to the right shows raised AOD values in Oklahoma and Texas, which could be as a result of the Skunk fire or the mass of aerosols the HMS also saw spanning from the Canadian border down into Arkansas..

The webcam photo from Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California (middle left) shows that these wildfires have affected air quality, as one is supposed to easily see mountains in the background. The clear-hazy comparison photo (middle right) illustrates how today's photo is indicative of poor air visibility, and combined with increased AQIs in the area, the current wildfires have certainly decreased air quality.

As mentioned, the EPA AIRNow combined AQI animation below also shows good AQIs over much of the United States for today, although moderate and USG AQIs were seen in Southern California. Spotty patches of moderate AQIs were seen later in the day, but the current high AQI goes still belongs to California in Bakersfield (135). Thus, the wildfires in California certainly seem to be significantly decreasing air quality in the region, which could persist into the weekend if the wildfires are not contained soon.

Posted by Graham Antoszewski at May 16, 2014 6:56 PM
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