June 30, 2014

Saharan Dust Polluting Southern US; Heavy Smoke Produced from Canadian Wildfires

The EPA AirNow combined ozone and PM2.5 loop (top left) summarizes our nation's air quality for today. The areas with the most air pollution can be seen in Southern California, the Mississippi Valley, and Connecticut. The ECMWF Global MACC AOD Forecast (top right) shows heavy Saharan dust crossing the Atlantic Ocean up to Texas, moving across into Louisiana--specifically affecting New Orleans. Southwesterly winds are transporting Saharan dust into the city, showing Unhealthy (Code Red) AQIs and elevated AOD levels (see MODIS Terra image, bottom left) over the area. The small spike of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) AQIs seen over Connecticut is mostly PM2.5, assumed to be caused by elevated levels of NO2 (OMI image, bottom right). Heightened concentrations of NO2 can also be seen throughout the Eastern US, which helps explain the Moderate (Code Yellow) AQIs over the area.

In other news, Canada's wildfires have left two large smoke plumes over most of the country, one plume crossing over into the Atlantic Ocean. Light to heavy smoke from the wildfires across the NW Territories (NOAA HMS Google Earth image, below) is moving South into Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The MODIS Terra image shows elevated AOD levels in this area, supporting the existence of heavy smoke. The Google Earth image also shows light to heavy smoke from the Quebec wildfires traveling along a coastal jet into the Atlantic Ocean and down the coast of the US. Still on the topic of fires, but now moving onto the US: the wildfire in New Mexico yesterday produced a rather large plume of light to medium smoke, now moving east into Oklahoma.

Posted by Farrah Daham at June 30, 2014 10:19 PM
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