June 30, 2010

Improvement in Air Quality over the US; Ozone Action Air Alert in Colorado; Canada and Alaska Wildfire Smoke over Baltimore

Today Good (Code Green) PM2.5 and Ozone AQI levels were experienced throughout most of the United States, with Code Yellow PM2.5 (Moderate AQI) reported in the afternoon along southeastern states and the San Bernandino Valley in California, as shown in the Airnow animation (PM2.5 and ozone, left and right animation, respectively below). The later also experienced Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Group) ozone AQI levels, while an ozone air quality action alert was issued for Colorado, effective until tomorrow.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product reported an expansive smoke plume along northern Alaska, Yukon, and Northwest Territories and that extended through much of eastern Manitoba and Ontario and into the Great Lakes/Midwest and Northeast states. The origins of the smoke plume are the large fires over the last week over central Canada and also the current wildfires over portions of central Alaska. Areas of high density smoke (high AOD) were captured by the MODIS sensor in Aqua and Terra, shown in the AOD images below (courtesy of Hai Zhang), over the Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea.

Preliminary images from the lidar measurements over Baltimore with the UMBC micropulse lidar (MPL) indicate the presence of the northern smoke, discussed above, aloft at heights around 3 to 4 km since 15:00 UTC (11:00 AM EST). Airmass over Baltimore today was located yesterday over the Great Lakes region, where NOAA HMS reported the presence of smoke (discussed yesterday in Amy's post), according to HYSPLIT backtrajectory (Google Earth overlay shown below).

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2010

Big Improvement in National Air Quality

Air quality across the nation continued to improve today. Both ozone and PM2.5 were mostly Code Green (Good), with a few isolated areas of Code Yellow (Moderate) conditions, as shown by the current AQI maps (upper panels, courtesy of AIRNow). It's still early in the afternoon in California, and ozone is forecasted to reach Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) across much of the Central Valley and Code Red (Unhealthy) in Bakersfield (below on lower left), so the current Code Yellow/Green conditions are likely to deteriorate over the next few hours.

The fires in Canada continue to produce large plumes of smoke across Nunavit Province and central Canada, according to NOAA's Hazard Mapping System. HMS indicated that a layer of smoke had spread across the Great Lakes region this morning, but it is not visible in today's Terra MODIS true color imagery (below on left, overlaid with AQI values and the synoptic analysis). A persistent plume of smoke/haze that has been residing over the Atlantic, east of the Delmarva, is evident in the satellite imagery, particularly today's MODIS AOD (below on right), but it is not impacting surface air quality. The MODIS true color image shows the location of a cold front that pushed through the northern Mid-Atlantic yesterday. A clean, dry Canadian airmass that is building in behind the front is responsible for widespread Code Green air quality across the Great Lakes, New England, northern Mid-Atlantic, and northern Mississippi Valley regions. On a personal note, we've had 10 consecutive 90+°F days here in Washington, DC, with dew points in the 60-70°F range, and several days of Code Orange ozone, so the arrival of the Canadian airmass is a welcome relief.

In environmental news, cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was hampered today by Tropical Storm Alex, the first storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. According to NPR, BP and the U.S. Coast Guard stopped cleanup and oil-skimming activities off the Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama coasts due to rough seas from winds generated by Alex. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting for Alex to strengthen to a Hurricane sometime tonight and continue to strengthen until making landfall in northeastern Mexico/southern Texas tomorrow evening. The current GOES visible satellite image of Alex (below) shows the location and extent of the storm.

Posted by Amy Huff at 6:15 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2010

Moderate PM2.5 Southern New England, Fires Arizona, Mississippi River

The levels of ozone were moderate in the early afternoon in southern New England (AQI). Also, Southern California had a USG level of ozone during the overnight hours from June 27th to June 28th (Upper Left, Upper Right). The levels of PM 2.5 remained at the moderate level through the first half of Monday in the Northeast (Lower Left Lower Right). The only other major area for moderate levels PM2.5 were in the Central South and Southern California.

Fires continue in North Central Canada and Northern Mexico as can be seen using NOAA's Hazard Mapping System. Smoke continues to exists in the northeastern region of the United States. This area stretches as far north as Cape Cod to eastern part of the Virginia/North Carolina border. As I mentioned in my blog last Monday, Fires continue to exists in the New Mexico/Arizona region as well as along the Mississippi River region.

Posted by Kevin Majewski at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2010

Air Quality Improves in East; Code Orange Ozone in Southern California

Although smoke from the fires in Canada continued to impact air quality along the East Coast today, conditions improved somewhat compared to yesterday. NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke product (below on upper left) shows the locations of smoke across much of Central Canada and the Northeast States. Today's Aqua MODIS AOD image (below on upper right) indicates very high levels of particulates from the smoke in Nunivut Provence, Canada. The smoke is discernible amongst the cloud cover in today's Terra MODIS true color image (below on lower left, overlaid with AQI values), particularly over the Atlantic just east of the Delmarva. PM2.5 levels in the Mid-Atlantic and southern Northeast regions stayed mainly in the Code Yellow (Moderate) range, with a few areas of Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups), as shown by today's loop of PM2.5 AQI values (below on lower right).

Ozone was forecasted to be Code Orange along much of the East Coast today due to the continuing stagnant and sunny weather conditions, but by this evening, levels had generally stayed in the Code Yellow range, as shown in the AQI map of the region (below on right). In Southern California, ozone was Code Orange across much of the inland regions east of Los Angeles and parts of the Central Valley, as shown by today's MODIS Aqua true color image, overlaid with AQI values (below on right).

Posted by Amy Huff at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2010

Canadian Fires dominate East Coast Air Quality

The fires in the Nunivut, Canada, continue to pour smoke southwards into the US. Last night visible smoke was seen over Baltimore as a 3-4km layer on the UMBC Leosphere lidar and later subsided down into the PBL. By six PM visibility was lowering dramatically. Due to short staffing and long hours on the lidars, we have been unable to run the manned systems this weekend, but we will have MPL data available. We will be contributing to an experiment based primarily in Eastern Canada called BORTAS (Quantifying the impact of BOReal forest fires on Tropospheric oxidants over the Atlantic using Aircraft and Satellites), which will run from July 12 through mid-August. It bodes to be a big fire season and they should have more opportunities to study the physical and chemical characteristics of these boreal forest fires. The BORTAS team and their colleagues at GSFC have an animation up which shows the GEOS-5 Carbon Monoxide forecast for today's case and it shows the tongue of CO extending south into the mid-Atlantic.

Overnight we had code orange and red air quality in southern Ohio, Indiana and as far east as Piney Run in Maryland and it is likely it is due to the smoke. Ironton, OH, has shown concerning levels of PM2.5 over 120 µg m-3 and Piney Run is showing a steady haze of over 50 µg m-3. New York City's lidar data should be very interesting from the GASP image. We will provide updates later today on the ozone as we are forecasted to be in the Hazardous for Sensitive Groups range again today.

The CORALNET lidar station in Egbert, Ontario, Canada picked up the smoke yesterday. And at the Wisconsin High Spectral Resolution Lidar, an amazing image comes out of yesterday's measurements where high extinction and depolarization are seen from 13km to the surface. Care is needed because some of this image may be an artifact of very thick smoke.

Posted by Ray Hoff at 9:23 AM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2010

Smoke from Canadian Fires Extends into Great Lakes and Northeastern Regions of U.S; Unhealthy Air Quaiity in Michigan and southern California; Moderatly High AOD on Southeastern Coast

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS, bottom left) reports the fires in Canada continuing today. These fires are located in Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec. The large smoke plume from these fires extends into the Great Lakes and Northeastern regions of the country covering the states of Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvanian, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, bottom right) reports high AOD levels in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec.

HMS reports fires and smoke in Alaska. In Nebraska, two plumes of smoke were observed. Several fires were reported in Florida. If you look closely, smoke from the oil burning that is occurring in the gulf from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill clean up can be observed.

PM2.5 levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow) across the country ranged from good to unhealthy today. Code Yellow (Moderate) PM2.5 levels were reported from much of the eastern half of the country in the Great Lakes and Southeast regions. Code Yellow PM2.5 levels were also reported in southern California. Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) and Code Red (Unhealthy) PM2.5 levels were reported in Michigan. Ozone levels (top right, courtesy AIRNow) in southern California were high throughout the night and into the day. Until around 3:00 AM EDT, Code Red, Orange levels were reported in a majority of southern California. As the night went on into the day, ozone levels stayed around Code Yellow, with some Code Orange levels being reported in the late morning into the afternoon. Tomorrow, due to high ozone levels, Air Quality Action Days have been declared in several areas of New Jersey that include: Brigantine, Camden, Clarksboro, and Millville; as well as in Louisville, KY.

The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, bottom right) reports moderately high AOD values along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Kentucky also reported moderate AOD values as well.

Posted by Jaime Compton at 6:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2010

Unhealthy Ozone levels in South California: Dense smoke plume due to fires in Canada

As it was mentioned by Amy yesterday, many areas in the US were expecting high Ozone levels. In fact, today unhealthy levels for sensitive groups (code orange) and Unhealthy (code red) levels were reached in Southern California (top left). In addition, moderate (code yellow) and unhealthy levels for sensitive groups (code orange) were also reached in the Mid Atlantic coast. According to PM2.5, moderate levels were read mainly in California and Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes regions. Some unhealthy levels for sensitive groups were also read in these areas (top right).

Fires and smoke: A huge plume coming from fires in Canada was reported today by Hazard Mapping Fire and Smoke Product (bottom left). The large fires across the northern woods of Saskatchewan (and West Central Manitoba) continue to pour out copious amounts of dense smoke that is moving South East covering nearly all of Saskatchewan and southern half of Manitoba where it continues to stretch through southwestern Ontario and into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Upper Great Lakes Region. According to this dense smoke MODIS terra reported very high AOD levels throughout these areas (bottom right).

In Arkansas, a light remnant smoke is hovering over Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas from the numerous fires across the area yesterday see image .
Finally, across the mid-Atlantic and southeast US a large area of aerosols and haze is slowly moving out over the Atlantic Ocean. It is very unlikely that this area contains any remnant smoke.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 9:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2010

Code Yellow PM2.5 Continues in Eastern U.S. due to Haze; Code Orange Ozone in Parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southern California

As Ruben mentioned yesterday, high pressure centered over the Eastern U.S. is keeping temperatures in the 90s °F and dew points in 60-70 °F range across the region. These conditions are allowing haze and associated Code Yellow (Moderate) PM2.5 to persist across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The haze is evident in today's MODIS true color image (below on upper left, overlaid with AQI levels and the synoptic analysis) and AOD (below on upper right). At the surface, the haze isn't too thick today, however; a webcam image from this afternoon at McMillan reservoir (below on lower left, courtesy of the National Park Service) shows a relatively clear view of the National Mall. PM2.5 concentrations in the DC/Baltimore region are in the lower Code Yellow range, averaging around 16-20 ug/m3 (below on lower right, courtesy of AIRNow-Tech).

Clear skies, light winds, and long days with a high solar zenith angle are ideal conditions for ozone generation, and as a result, many states in the Mid-Atlantic, Mississippi Valley, and Southern California issued Ozone Air Quality Action Days for today. But by 5:00 PM EDT, only scattered area in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern California were experiencing Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) ozone levels (below on left). With another day of high temperatures and sunny skies expected tomorrow, a range of metropolitan regions across the country have issued Ozone Air Quality Actions Days for Thursday, including parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Texas, Utah, and the Pacific Southwest (AQI forecasts below on right in Google Earth).

Posted by Amy Huff at 6:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2010

Arizona Wildfires, Ozone Air Quality Action Day and Low Level Jet over Baltimore

Several media outlets reported on the Schultz (Coconino National Forest) wildfires in Arizona. Smoke and burn scars are visible in today's MODIS-Terra "true color (left image)and 7-2-1 (rght image) images, respectively. Local health officials issued a smoke advisory overnight for neighborhoods near the Schultz fire, as the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality anticipates a "drainage flow" creating high smoke concentrations in areas around Wupatki Estates, Timberline, Fernwood and Hutchinson Acres, and south down Highway 89 to the Lake Mary area. As well, the US Forest Service implemented fire restrictions to prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public health and safety.

Ozone Air Quality Action Day alerts were in effect today along several states in the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley as an area of high pressure persisted (overlaid in Google Earth and shown in the left image below). Light winds, mostly sunny skies, and temperatures pushing into the upper 90s aided ozone to reach Code Orange (Unhealthy for sensitive Groups) and high Code Yellow (Moderate) AQI concentrations in several locations along these regions (right animation below).

Here in Baltimore, lidars operated by the Atmospheric Lidar Group at UMBC have been running since last Friday, as the Air Quality since was forecasted to be Code Orange for several days. Below the 532 nm extinction lidars timeseries images corresponding to the ELF system. During the early hours on June 19, the lidar timeseries show that after 0:00 UTC the boundary layer was inhomgeneous with stratification. Enhanced turbulent inhomogenieties observed in the residual layer are the result of nocturnal low level jet activity in the boundary layer. PM2.5 concentrations measured at Maryland Department of the Environment Oldtown monitoring station were Moderate (Code Yellow), as they were greater than 15 ug/m3 and are associated to the increase of photons scattered back to the lidar receiver near the surface and within the boundary layer. Elastic lidar timeseries at 355 nm for this Air Quality event are also available and posted here.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2010

Fires in Central South, Moderate levels of PM2.5/Ozone

There are several fires that have sprung up in the Mississippi river valley area and west towards Arkansas, as can be seen with MODIS (top left). It should be noted that the fires I spoke of last week in Arizona and New Mexico have either continued or flared up again. The AQI (top right) shows USG, (orange) or Unhealthy for Sensitive groups rating for the Charlotte, NC and Memphis TN. USG rating has been given to the coast of Alabama as well.

Levels of ozone are quite high in south western West Virginia (bottom left). As can be seen an orange rating or USG has been given. Also, significant levels of ozone appear in the Charlotte, NC region as well as southern Indiana. AQI (bottom right) also shows moderate levels of PM 2.5 in the Wilmington, NC region. In, addition, Mississippi, Alabama and points north have moderate ratings as well as Los Angeles

Posted by Kevin Majewski at 5:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2010

Moderate levels of PM2.5 dominates the eastern half of US; Smoke from Canadian fires still causing elevated AOD

Sunday started with moderate levels of PM2.5 (top, left) in most of the East Coast states, from Georgia to Nova Scotia in Canada and also in Colorado, Los Angeles CA and Alberta, Canada. As the day progresses, PM2.5 levels in Canada improves but get worse in Colorado and Ohio where the levels reach code orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups).

In terms of ozone (top, right), moderate levels were observed in the Pacific Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic and scattered areas in the Mississippi Valley region.

High AOD was observed over the Atlantic [top row: MODIS Terra AOD (left) and RGB (right)] and over Saskatchewan, Manitoba and a small portion of Eastern Ontario due to the ongoing wildfires (bottom row)

Elevated AOD was also observed in Arkansas and Georgia.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2010

Heating up in the east and smoke and haze are widespread on the East Coast

It is warming up significantly in the Mid-Atlantic States and a heat advisory is out for tomorrow with temperatures expected to approach 100F. Haze is widespread through the country with the MODIS AOD showing elevated readings over southern Alberta and Saskatchewan (probably from the BC and Alberta fires mentioned yesterday), haze off Nova Scotia (probably from the Quebec fires noted yesterday and seen in today's HMS smoke map - right). Note that the AOD image switches to the RGB image off the coast in the sunglint region over the water where MODIS cannot retrieve AOD.

But elevated haze and PM persists through the Ohio River Valley with Code Orange readings in this afternoon's animated AIRNow PM map. It is likely that this is anthropogenic pollution. This haze is circled in the image as parallel to the Appalachian Mountains. In the Southwest states, elevated haze is seen over Nevada and Utah in the MODIS AOD and this correlates with the elevated PM2.5 in the AIRNow map.

Mike Fromm has identified a pyrocumulus event in Alberta yesterday evening at ~57.5N, 113.8W. You can access the pyrocumulus listserve at Yahoo groups.

And in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil just keeps coming and coming. The reflectivity in the Aqua MODIS overpass was impressive and you could see the positions of the rigs.

Posted by Ray Hoff at 5:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2010

Code Orange Air Quality in Southern California; High AOD and Smoke in Kansas

PM2.5 levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow) levels throughout the country varied from good to moderate (Code Yellow) levels today. Ozone levels (top right, courtesy AIRNow) were good for much of the country today with exception to southern California. Most of southern California experienced Code Yellow PM2.5 and ozone levels today, with some parts reporting Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) PM2.5 and ozone levels. Code Orange PM2.5 levels were reported today in Ohio. Code Yellow PM2.5 levels were reported throughout the Great Lakes, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic regions. Along the Gulf Coast, Code Yellow PM2.5 levels were reported. This is likely a result of the BP oil spill. Real-time ozone and particle pollution information is reported on the EPA's AIRNow website. Air Quality Action Day have been declared tomorrow due to forecasted Code Orange ozone levels in Charlotte, NC; Chester, NJ; Denver, CO; Flemington, NJ; Fort Collins, CO.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS, bottom left) shows the fires in Canada continuing today. Large smoke plumes from several fires are reported in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Quebec. A large plume of smoke can be observed in the Northeast region of the U.S. This smoke stretches from Pennsylvanian up through to Maine; covering all states in between. Smoke from fires in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. A large smoke plume is reported over Kansas and Nebraska. Several fires were reported in the Mississippi Valley.

The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, bottom right) shows high AOD values in areas where HMS reported smoke today over Kansas and off the coast in the Northeast. High AOD values were observed in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Moderate AOD values were reported in Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Posted by Jaime Compton at 7:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2010

Good Air Quality in the US; Fires continue in Canada

Today, the Air Quality throughout the US is good and moderate in terms of Ozone and PM2.5. Moderate levels were read mainly in Mid Atlantic and Mississippi valley regions as well as in California (top left).
In Canada, fires continue to produce plumes of smoke over different areas (top right). Light to moderate density smoke covers a large area from northern British Columbia and the southern Northwest Territories east towards the western shore of Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba. The source of the very dense smoke was the numerous wildfires located over northern Saskatchewan. Additional sources for the larger smoke plume were from fires over the last week in Alaska and Yukon Territory. Moreover, a large area of moderate density smoke was detected from the southern shores of James Bay and covered a good portion of southern Quebec and southeastern Ontario. The plume was seen approaching Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and was likely pushing into the lower peninsula of Michigan. According to the fires in Canada MODIS (Aqua) read High AOD values in Manitoba (bottom left)

In addition, Hazard Mapping Fire and Smoke Product reported a light to moderately dense smoke plume over northern Arizona and extended into northwest New Mexico and into south central Colorado. The source of this smoke was the wildfire analyzed over northern Arizona.
Finally, strong winds across the US desert Southwest is transporting thin to moderately dense sand and dust toward the North East across much of the Mogollon Plateau into the Four Corners region. Sand/dust extends as far NE as Mesa County and La Plata/San Juan counties in Colorado.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 9:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2010

Blowing Dust Advisory and Ozone Air Quality Action Day in Colorado; Haze and Moderate PM2.5 in Southeastern US

A blowing dust advisory for western and southwestern Colorado was issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as strong gusting ( 40 to 50 mph) winds were expected to blow across dry areas of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. This dust is expected to raise the PM levels in the early Thursday morning hours as it settles into the ground, after being suspended out in the atmosphere and transported long distance. As well, an OZONE ACTION DAY ALERT was issued and in effect until 4 p.m. (MST) Thursday, June 17 for the Front Range Urban Corridor from El Paso County north to Larimer and Weld counties, including the Denver-Boulder area, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley. Ozone concentrations, greater than 50 ppb (Code Yellow: MODERATE AQI), have been recorded in several ground stations (left timeseries), according to values obtained from Airnowtech and Airnow Ozone AQI Animation (right image).

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product reported the presence of thin to moderate smoke along the central US from southwest South Dakota, Nebraska, and east Colorado to northeast Texas, Arkansas, and south Missouri and Illinois, as well as remnant smoke from fires in Arizona, New Mexico, and in northern Baja, Mexico. Also, a large area of haze/high aerosol concentration along the coast of North and South Carolina was observed and might be associated to the hazy airmass reported yesterday by Amy and that was located over Alabama. The areas associated with smoke and haze, discussed above, led to the high AOD (MODIS "true color" and AOD overlay) recorded by the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite. Moderate PM2.5 AQI levels were recorded over the region associated with the hazy airmass in the southeastern US, the Mid-Atlantic states and California (PM2.5 Animation below).

The National Fire Interagency Center reports that wildland fire activity was light throughout the states, with three new fires reported in Alaska, Florida, and New Mexico.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 9:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2010

Moderate PM2.5 Air Quality Continues across the Southeast, Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes due to Haze

The national air quality situation has not changed much since Ray's post on Sunday. Haze continued across much of the Southeast, Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes on Tuesday, with widespread Code Yellow (Moderate) PM2.5 conditions, as shown by the loop of PM2.5 AQI values (below on upper left). It's somewhat difficult to discern the haze in the MODIS true color image (below on upper right, overlaid with AQI values), due to the presence of clouds, but high AOD, particularly over Alabama, confirms the presence of haze (below on lower left). The NAAPS forecast for June 20 (below on lower right) suggests that sulfate aerosol will continue to be a regional presence in the Eastern U.S. for at least the rest of the week, which is typical for this time of year.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System reported smoke across parts of Washington state, the northern Plains states, and New England, but smoke was not discernable in today's MODIS imagery, and the smoke did not appear to affect surface air quality in these areas. Four large fires continue to burn in Alaska, but according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, air quality conditions are Code Green (Good). As Kevin mentioned in his post yesterday, several large fires are currently burning in Arizona and New Mexico, as shown in today's MODIS true color image (below, overlaid with fire locations). No smoke from the fires is evident in the satellite imagery, however, and surface air quality in the vicinity of the fires remains in the Code Green range. The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for much of northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, southern Nevada, and southeastern California for Wednesday. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire conditions are occurring now, or will occur shortly. Low humidities, high temperatures, and gusty winds will create conditions for explosive fire growth across these regions on Wednesday, so they bear watching for development of new fires in the next 24 hours.

Posted by Amy Huff at 5:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2010

Moderate Levels of PM2.5 in eastern U.S., Fires in Arizona/New Mexico

In watching the air quality due to PM2.5, it can be seen that an improvement has occurred over the southeast compared to the previous days. A USG (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) rating has been given to the air quality in the Cleveland Ohio area. Most of the moderate levels of PM2.5 are occurring east of the Mississippi River (PM 2.5 AQI).

Faint smoke from the fires in Arizona and New Mexico can be seen via visible satellite imagery. Click Here

Also NASA MODIS images show where the fires are located .

Posted by Kevin Majewski at 6:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2010

Haze persists over the Southeast and Mississippi Valley; Canada fires update

The haze Ray discussed yesterday is still present over the Southeast and Mississippi Valley states, extending to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico (MODIS Aqua RGB; left). In NOAA's HMS smoke text they report that this haze is possibly remnant smoke from North Carolina's fire from Saturday but also mixed with other sources of aerosol, sulfates for instance (see yesterday's post from Ray). The elevated AOD (right) over the region confirms the presence of haze.

The air quality in the Southeast was at moderate levels and it was all due to PM2.5 (left) as ozone levels(right) stayed in the good range throughout the day. Unhealthy levels for sensitive groups (code orange) was observed in Ohio and moderate levels were observed in California, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Eastern Canada and in some regions of the Great Plains. Ozone reached moderate levels in the Pacific Southwest in the afternoon and in southern California a code orange was observed.

Wildfires in Central Canada could be observed with MODIS Aqua (right) as well as the dense smoke produced. AOD was high over Manitoba (left). NOAA's HMS map can be viewed here.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2010

Moderate haze in the US Southeast

The air quality across much of the country is in the good range and the warm weather in the US Southeast has accompanying moderate haze. Ozone is not exceeding criteria levels except is a couple of isolated areas. Sulfate haze dominates (see the NRL forecast for the SO4 concentrations which are expected to be in the 4-8 ug m-3 range. The AQI map for the southeast shows one orange (hazardous to susceptible groups) around Huntsville in Alabama.

Both MODIS AOD (left, from the IDEA website) and GASP AOD (right, also from IDEA) display the haze in this region. It is not easy to see the haze in the Red-Green-Blue imagery because popcorn (fair-weather) cumulus clouds dot the region.

Posted by Ray Hoff at 4:25 PM | Comments (0)

International: Shanghai Expo and Air Quality

The Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China is a global cultural event, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors every day all this summer. Similar to the Olympics in Beijing last year, it is an opportunity for the world to learn more about China and other cultures.

As Ray mentioned in his post earlier this week, China and partners in the U.S. are using the Expo as an opportunity to share information about air pollution with the public. AIRNow-International has launched its first international realtime air quality site for Shanghai, as a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau. IDEA-International, a NASA/NOAA/EPA/Univ. of Wisconsin/UMBC partnership is demonstrating the ability to use satellite aerosol optical depth data with forward trajectory to help assess predicted changes in air quality during the Expo.

So, how does it all look for air quality today in Shanghai? On the left is the MODIS Terra image, showing cloudy conditions for Shanghai, but some pretty intense haze in the central part of the country. On the right is yesterday's IDEA image of AOD (the circles are the same color coded markers where the forward trajectories are run). Where AOD is visible under the clouds, it reveals heavy particle pollution (AOD >1) in the area to the west of Shanghai. The forecasted animation for today indicates a stationary low pressure system that will keep those pollutants in the same region for several days. At the bottom is a close up of the urban scale pollution from the ground monitors and modeling from AIRNow-I, showing peak PM10 concentrations over 150 ug/m3 (for context, the U.S. ambient air quality standard for PM10 is 150 ug/m3).

Throughout their history, Expos have been about scientific and cultural education. These air quality data sites being piloted during the Shanghai Expo will help increase awareness about air pollution in Asia and hopefully contribute to finding ways to reduce the sources of these pollutants.

Posted by Jill Engel-Cox at 4:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2010

Code Orange AOD in Mid-Atlantic;

PM2.5 levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow) were primarliy moderate (Code Yellow) for much of the eastern half of the United States today. Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) PM2.5 levels were observed throughout the night in Georgia. Areas in Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin reported Code Orange PM2.5 levels during the day. Ozone levels  (top right, courtesy AIRNow) were good throughout the most of the country. The Mid-Atlantic states of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina experienced Code Yellow ozone levels, with some areas in those states reporting Code Orange. Code Yellow ozone levels were reported in southern California as well.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS, bottom right) reports a large plum of smoke covering Alaska and much of Canada from continuing fires in those areas. A large plume was also observed off the eastern coast of Canada. Smoke from fires in Arizona, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Virgina were observed as well. Smoke from the Texas fire was observed on the MODIS Terra satellite and can be viewed here.

The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, bottom left) shows high AOD values along the Ohio-Indiana border. Moderate to high AOD values were reported in Kentucky. Georgia, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona all observed moderate AOD values today.

Posted by Jaime Compton at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2010

Fires in Alaska in Canada continue; Good air quality in the US.

The air quality today over the US is very good. Good ozone levels were read during the whole day (top left). PM2.5 levels were mainly good and moderate in Southeast, Mississippi Valley and Mid Atlantic regions (top right). According to fires, Hazzard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product continue to report activity due to the different fires reported during the week in Alaska and Canada.
The wildfires in Alaska in the northern Yukon Territory continue to produce areas of locally dense smoke. The larger surrounding mass of thin to moderately dense smoke covered the northwest Yukon, central and northern Alaska, and a portion of the Arctic Ocean (bottom left).
In Canada significant smoke producing fires were detected in the area surrounding the Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca extending farther down into Saskatchewan Province (bottom right).

Aditionally, in the Southeast An area of aerosol covered much of the Gulf of Mexico and inland across the Southeast from Texas to the Carolinas. Some of this aerosol may be composed of remnant smoke from the seasonal fires burning in Mexico and Central America though the contribution is not known.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2010

Alaska Fires Continue and Moderate PM2.5 over the Gulf of Mexico and Southeastern US

The National Interagency Fire Center reported light wildland fire activity. Currently there a total of 12 active fires in Alaska, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. The smoke and burn scars from the Alaska wild fires are distinguishable in today's MODIS Terra "true" (left image) and "false" (right image) color images, respectively.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product indicated that aerosol covered much of the Gulf of Mexico and inland across the Southeast from Texas to the Carolinas, with a possibility that it may be remnant smoke from the seasonal fires burning in Mexico and Central America. This smoke led to to high AOD values recorded over the Gulf of Mexico, shown below in the Google Earth overlay of the MODIS Terra "true" color and AOD product.The smoke impacted the air quality in this region, as Moderate PM2.5 concentrations were recorded along the Gulf and Southeastern US, as shown in the PM2.5 AQI animation. Meanwhile, ozone concentrations were Good throughout the most of the nation. Moderate concentrations were recorded in California and Florida.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2010

Smoke/haze over the South and Gulf of Mexico; Code orange for ozone in southern California, Utah and Alabama

Today ozone reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups (code orange) in California, Utah and Alabama. PM2.5 (top, left) stayed between good and moderate ranges in southern California, Oklahoma, eastern half of Texas, and Mississippi Valley and Southeastern states. OMI shows higher concentration of tropospheric NO2 (top, right) over the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states and MODIS Terra indicates higher AOD values in California.

NOAA's HMS team reports some fires (map) in the Southeast and some haze possibly mixed with smoke over that region and extending to the Gulf of Mexico. MODIS Terra (bottom, left) shows some of that haze over Mississippi and over the gulf, and also the associated higher AOD values (bottom, right). The 250m resolution true color image over the gulf gives us an updated image of the oil slick covered by a thin layer of haze.

The fires in Alaska continues as we can see from Terra true color image below.

UPDATE: Patricia was uncertain of what she saw in this MODIS AQUA image at 250 m resolution yesterday. The image shows the burning of oil on the surface of the ocean by the "clean up" crews. It is somewhat disturbing that we clean up pollution by making pollution which contains PAH's and other toxic compounds. RMH
Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 7, 2010

Code Orange PM2.5 along Florida's Gulf Coast

PM2.5 is in the Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) range in St. Petersburg and Sarasota, Florida today. Many other areas along the Gulf Coast, including parts of Louisiana and Texas, are experiencing Code Yellow (Moderate) PM2.5 conditions, as shown in the loop of PM2.5 AQI values (below on upper left). The elevated PM2.5 levels are likely associated with smoke from continuing agricultural fires in Mexico and Central America. NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS) reports an area of thin smoke and aerosols along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana into the Florida peninsula (below on upper right). High AOD associated with the smoke is evident in today's MODIS imagery (true color and AOD overlaid with AQI values in Google Earth, below on lower left). HMS also reports a large area of light smoke across much of central Canada associated with continuing fires in Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska. Currently, ozone is mostly Code Green (Good) across the nation, with a few scattered areas of Code Yellow across parts of the Mississippi Valley states.

The western periphery of the Gulf of Mexico oil slick was very evident in today's Aqua MODIS true color image (below), due to the presence of sunglint. The New York Times is reporting that Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, commander of the federal response to the spill, says it make take until Fall to stop the flow of oil from the leaking well, and the oil slick in the Gulf may impact shores and marshes for years to come.

Posted by Amy Huff at 6:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2010

Moderate levels of PM2.5 in the South and East of US; Unhealthy ozone levels in Southern California

The fires in Alaska and Mexico continue, as reported by the HMS team at NOAA (top, left) , and the smoke is visible in today's MODIS images. The true color image showing the Alaska fires is from Aqua (top, right) and the one showing the smoke mixed to clouds over the Gulf of Mexico is from Terra (bottom; true and false color respectively).

Ozone levels in southern California, in the LA - San Diego area (left), were between moderate to unhealthy. PM2.5 levels (right) stayed in the moderate range mostly. Moderate levels of ozone and PM2.5 were observed in Texas and neighboring states, and good to moderate levels of PM2.5 were observed in Florida, Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

SPECIAL FEATURE: IDEA International is Live

As part of US contributions to the assessment of the air over Shanghai for the World Expo, Brad Pierce of NOAA NESDIS and CIMSS at the University of Wisconsin has unveiled a demonstration of the linking of AIRNOW International (we'll discuss in a later post) and the IDEA product which is running for the US at NESDIS. The structural components which go into IDEA-I are shown in the diagram below:

Only one panel of IDEA is shown in the IDEA-I demonstration product. The product is built on request and you need to go back through the calendar system if today's product is not there. It takes a minute or so to build the demo, so have some patience. I include June 5's panel here as a link. We will watch this product during the Expo and bring you stories as they arise.

This project is in support of the CEOS Atmospheric Chemistry Constellation effort and a fuller discussion of the project can be found in the following powerpoint by Dr. Pierce at the CEOS Meeting.

Posted by Ray Hoff at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 5, 2010

Haze continues in Great Lakes and Southern Mississippi Valley

Haze and ozone in the Cleveland vicinity pushed the air quality into the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range. This appears to be unrelated to the continuing stream of smoke from Alaska and the Yukon and from the Caribbean in the HMS maps.

We have been unable to get the MODIS AOD today as the IDEA site is not updating for MODIS AM or PM. The visible band of mostly cloud free skies with hazy air seen in yesterday's post by Patricia continues. There is a good possibility that the smoke is suppressing cloud formation in Canada. The GASP East image shows considerable haze moving through Ontario and Quebec. Haze in the Southern Mississippi Valley is likely being imported from the Gulf. There are haze sources in Oklahoma and ozone is locally high in the inland Southern California region.

The generally degraded air quality can also be seen in today's NO2 columns and in the simulated PM2.5 maps which are created in IDEA from a combination of MODIS and GASP (right).

Posted by Ray Hoff at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2010

Poor air quality in southern California; Smoke over Mid-Atlantic, Canada and Gulf of Mexico

Fires and smoke are still the main topic in the blog today.

As reported by the HMS team (map) at NOAA, a long path of smoke stretching from Alaska, passing over Canada and reaching the Mid-Atlantic was observed today with MODIS (top, left). AOD was higher along the smoky path, specially over the fires in Alaska (top, right). The smoke over the Atlantic (bottom, left) was lighter and therefore harder to distinguish but high AOD (bottom, right) was observed over the ocean and also over Delaware, Virginia and Maryland.

Zooming in the Alaska fires and using both true and false color images from MODIS Terra (left and right, respectively) we can distinguish smoke from clouds better in this case, and we also see some burn scars that show up as darker brown in the false color image.

Dense smoke from fires in Central America and Mexico was observed over the Gulf of Mexico causing high AOD values.

Now in terms of air quality, ozone levels reached unhealthy levels (code red) in southern California between LA and San Diego and also northern Texas. Levels stayed in the moderate and unhealthy levels for sensitive groups in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes and Plains states. PM2.5 followed similar pattern presenting equal or lower levels in the same regions.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 3, 2010

Wildfires in Alaska; Smoke from Mexico

Wildfires continue to burn across Alaska and the Yukon Territory emitting a large area of moderately dense to dense smoke north into the Beaufort Sea. An undetermined aerosol most likely light residual smoke is moving south across the Chukchi Sea and western Alaska. The smoke over western/central Canada has now moved into Ontario and far western sections of Quebec. An area of moderately dense to dense smoke stretches across northern/central Ontario, southern Hudson Bay, St. James Bay and into western Quebec. The smoke may spread farther but cloud cover is blocking the full view of smoke (top left) (Fire and Smoke Product)

An area of light to small pockets of moderately dense smoke is spreading north from Mexico, reaching the eastern coast of Texas and nearing the coast of Louisiana and across most of the Western Gulf of Mexico. Smoke spreading north from the Yucatan Peninsula has moved into sections of south central/eastern sections of the Gulf of Mexico and nearing south Florida and western Cuba. Across the north central/eastern sections of the Gulf of Mexico an area of aerosols can be seen, but the source is undetermined (top right).

The Atmospheric Lidar Group at UMBC has read aerosols aloft by ELF Lidar measurements during past two days (bottom left). This aerosol/smoke activity is presumed to have origin in the different burnings in Alaska and Canada.
Finally, according to air quality in the U.S. moderate levels were read in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions, as well as California in Pm2.5 and Ozone parameters. In particular, Unhealthy levels were read in Ohio (bottom right).

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2010

Moderate PM2.5 in the Northeastern US due to Canadian Fires in Quebec. Fires in Central America and Alaska Still Burning.

Moderate PM2.5 concentrations were recorded in the Northeastern US states, as seen in the Airnow PM2.5 AQI loop (top left image), as fewer fires were burning out of control in Quebec. Smoke associated with these fires is visible in today's MODIS Terra "true color" image (top right Google Earth MODIS Terra and National Weather Service Synoptic Weather Map overlay) as well as clouds associated with low pressure system in this region. In the Mid Atlantic States the Moderate PM2.5 concentrations were influenced by the high temperatures and transport of southerly air masses due to a high pressure system in this region. This system also helped ozone to reach Code Yellow and Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in the Mid-Atlantic States (bottom left animation).

The National Interagency Fire Center reports fire activity in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, with a total of 13 fires not contained at this time. The smoke was visible in MODIS Terra overpass over Alaska. The plume coveres the northeastern region of this state. Smoke from the Alaska forest fires and the agricultural activities in Mexico and Central America was captured in today's MODIS Aqua AOD retrieval over Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, respectively (bottom right image).

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2010

Code Orange PM2.5 in Northeast due to Smoke from Quebec Fires; Code Red PM2.5 Forecasted for Maine on Wednesday; Fires in Central America and Alaska Continue

The big air quality story so far this week is smoke from fires in Quebec that is impacting the Northeast states, particularly Maine and New Hampshire. As Patricia has discussed in her recent posts, this smoke has caused Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) to Code Red (Unhealthy) PM2.5 air quality across the Northeast for the past two days. Conditions today began in the Code Orange range, as shown in the loop of PM2.5 AQI values (below on upper left), and improved to Code Green (Good) in some areas due to passage of a cold front. The smoke was not visible in MODIS satellite imagery due to clouds associated with the front (Terra true color image below on right, overlaid with AQI values); the position of the front at the time of the satellite overpass is clearly evident by the sharp break in cloud cover to the west of New York and Pennsylvania. The smoke is expected to continue to affect the Northeast on Wednesday, and as a result, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has issued an Air Quality Action Day for expected Code Red PM2.5 conditions across the entire state. The forecasted AQI values for the Northeast and northern Mid-Atlantic regions on Wednesday are shown below on the lower left in Google Earth. Parts of Northern New Hampshire are also under Air Quality Action Days for expected Code Orange PM2.5 associated with smoke from the Canadian fires. Ozone levels stayed in the Code Green to Code Yellow (Moderate) range today across the nation, but Code Orange levels are expected tomorrow in New Jersey, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

The fires in Alaska and Central America continued today. The MODIS satellite imagery isn't available yet for Alaska, but NOAA's Hazard Mapping System reports that moderate to extremely dense smoke stretches over central to northern Alaska. Further south, smoke from the agricultural fires in Central America was visible over the Gulf of Mexico in Terra MODIS true color imagery (below on left, overlaid with MODIS fire locations). The remnants of Pacific Tropical Storm Agatha are also visible to the east of the Yucatan Peninsula. The complementary MODIS AOD data (below on right, overlaid on the true color imagery) shows areas of high AOD associated with smoke from the fires. PM2.5 AQI values didn't get above Code Yellow along the Gulf Coast and Texas today, so the fires do not seem to be affecting air quality in the southern U.S. at this time.

Today is the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through November 30. Tropical cyclones (hurricanes and tropical storms) can impact air quality due to strong subsidence (sinking air) ahead of the systems. And of course, air quality is extremely good during tropical cyclones, due to strong winds, heavy precipitation, and the influence of a clean tropical air mass. Visit the National Hurricane Center for information on the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, including the official outlook (NOAA expects a busy season) and a fact sheet about hurricanes and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. We at the Smog Blog will monitor the progress of the hurricane season and bring you any updates on relevant storms if they impact air quality conditions.

Posted by Amy Huff at 6:57 PM | Comments (0)