June 28, 2012

Unhealthy ozone levels in the Lakes region; Smoke reaches the East coast

Air quality conditions today are very similar to those reported yesterday. However, ozone levels have worsened significantly, several stations mainly in the Great lakes region read unhealthy levels, code red during the afternoon (top left). The large smoke plume also reported yesterday from several fires continues to spread and now is reaching the east coast (top right). Most of this smoke is originated in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana where several fires have been taking place for weeks. MODIS true color detected today more fires and smoke plumes in that region (middle). In particular, a broad area of moderately dense smoke extends from Colorado, Wyoming and eastern Montana eastward across the northern Plains into Minnesota where it mixes with clouds in a weather system. The smoke gets caught up in the weather system and has been pulled north over Hudson Bay. Finally, elastic lidar measurements at UMBC show at least three layers of smoke during the day. This smoke was also detected during the past two days but the load of smoke now is way higher that that observed previously.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2012

Smoke continue covering a huge part of the nation; Unhealthy Ozone levels

AirNow reported moderate AQI levels over a wide area of the country. Ozone concentration turned from good to unhealthy levels for sensitive groups in the Plain States, Mississippi Valley and great lakes region throughout the day (top left). PM2.5 levels were moderate only in the Mississippi Valley. The great event continue being the fires and the large amount of smoke covering half of the nation (top right). According to HMS, light to moderately dense smoke remains situated across central North America. The smoke extends from southern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, south through the Central Plains/Mississippi Valley, into Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi where it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The smoke also extends east through the Mississippi Valley into Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. These areas likely consist of remnant smoke from the numerous large wildfires in the western US. True color image from Modis on Aqua detected fires and smoke plumes in Wyoming and Montana (middle left). High AOD levels were also detected in the Rocky Mountain States due to the fires mentioned (middle right). Lidar observations at Hampton University (Mid-Atlantic region) detected an aerosol layer at about 5km yesterday and today as indicated by Dr. Jia Su (bottom). The amount of aerosols have increased from yesterday as can be seen in the extinction coefficient at 1064 time series.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 9:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2012

Code Purple in Texas due to combined smoke and ozone.

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 concentrations of fires is in the Midwest region, with smoke plumes covering most of the central part of the country. The animation below, courtesy GASP shows the increase AOD from these fires. You can see the smoke moving throughout the day, mostly moving southward.

The first animation below is the EPA AIRNOW AQI values for Houston and the surrounding areas. During the daytime hours, you can see the AQI values greatly rise. From 14:00 - 16:00 CDT there is actually a code purple for very unhealthy levels of air pollution. These unsafe levels of air quality are shared between the smoke debris from fires in the area and increased levels of ozone formed in the urban areas. When you have a day like today, that was extremely hot and had very low cloud coverage, there will be a surge of ozone production near factories and major highways. The data and graph below show the hourly surface ozone (ppb) for the Houston area. You can see that it reached almost 150 ppb in some areas (looks like ambient values ~40 ppb).

The first image below shows the NOAA ozone forecast for Texas. You can see the large increase in ozone near Houston, specifically you can see a stripe of very high ozone being transported directly into the Gulf of Mexico. The second image, courtesy CALIPSO, shows the swath that was essentially stretched from Texas to the Dakotas. You can see that there are layers of aerosols between 3 and 5 km. This is most likely due to smoke particulates aloft. The AIRS dust score does not show any dust along this swath and most of the AERONET size distribution retrievals were dominated by the fine mode, so I would assume that this smoke particulates aloft.

Posted by John Sullivan at 9:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2012

Triple digit temperatures and peak ozone levels across southern plains

The most intense heat wave of the summer thus far has commenced over the Plain states, stretching as far north as North Dakota through Southern Texas (bottom left, courtesy Accuweather). Even folks in Denver, CO experienced sizzling temperatures today, rising towards triple digits by late afternoon. Unfortunately, temperatures were not the only indices rising, ozone levels were climbing in tandem with the heat (bottom right, courtesy AIRNow).

By far the worse conditions occurred across eastern Texas near Dallas and Houston, which reached Unhealthy (Code Red) ozone levels, surpassing 100 ppb (bottom left, courtesy AIRNow). In addition, the extreme heat and low humidity conditions are exacerbating risks for wildfire growth across this already hard hit area and could provide fuel to initiate new fires. The HMS analysis team reports visible smoke again from the Colorado fires, while what appears to be unabated light to moderate remnant smoke traverses the central United States (bottom right).

Moderate (Code Yellow) and a few isolated Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) PM2.5 levels were measured today across the aforementioned region, as well as Pacific Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast states (bottom left, courtesy AIRNow). Elevated AOD levels were also recorded today for some of these locations by the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's AQUA satellite (bottom right).

Posted by Alexandra St Pe at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2012

Smoke Aloft and Red Flag Warning in Rocky Mountain States; Code Orange Ozone AQI levels in the Eastern Half of the United States

On Saturday, June 23, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning has been issued for locations along the Rocky Mountain States, as seen below in the National Weather Service advisory image. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions: low relative humidity and warm temperatures can create explosive fire growth potential. The Weber, Little Sand, Springer and High Park fires that we have discussed about this past week continue to generate large amounts of dense smoke that continue to move east. Smoke from the wildfires in Colorado fires is visible in the MODIS "true color/rgb" images from the Aqua satellite (top right image), and is yielding the high AOD values over this region. Planned ignitions in locations adjacent to the High Park Fires were carried out to combat these wildfires, may impact the local air quality as elevated smoke concentrations and ash fallout is expected. Colorado PM2.5 concentrations were Good (Code Green AQI), while ozone concentrations were Moderate (Code Yellow) ranging with maximum values ranging from 59-69 ppb.

On Sunday, June 24, Code Orange ozone concentrations were reported in along Great Lakes, southern Plains and Mid-Atlantic states as high pressure system over this region led to the high production of ozone, as it is fueled by stagnant winds and high temperatures. Satellite retrievals continue to be impacted by the presence of smoke aloft from the fires in Colorado as shown below in today's AQUA MODIS images.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 6:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2012

Poor Air Quality in the Eastern US

Today, a lot of activity in Air Quality in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions as a result of high temperatures and pressure systems, as well as smoke reaching entering into these areas. In terms of PM2.5, moderate and unhealthy levels for sensitive groups were read in several states. Moderate levels kept moderate during the entire day over Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes regions (top left). On the other hand Ozone levels were good during the morning but turned moderate and even unhealthy for sensitive groups pretty much over the same regions previously mentioned (top right). In fact, some stations in Northeast region reached unhealthy (red code) concentration values as well.
Fires continue taking place over different regions of the nation and also in Canada and Mexico. According to HMS Several areas of smoke could be seen this morning over northwest Mexico, west Texas, southwest Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, southwest Utah, south Nevada, and southeast California. This smoke is a mix of remnant and new smoke from numerous wildfires burning in the southwest US and in northwest Mexico (bottom left). Also, a large area of aerosol covering the eastern US, and stretching from Kentucky/Tennessee eastward across the Atlantic and northeastward into southern Quebec, is believed to be made up of ozone and other unknown aerosols. At the southeastern edge of the hazy mass of aerosols, a band of what is believed to be smoke from a large fire in southeast North Carolina can be seen extending eastward off the coast. This fire was producing new smoke this morning. Lidar systems at UMBC have been running from Tuesday detecting different layers of aerosols aloft extending up to 7 kilometers during the past three days. In addition to that, a lot of dynamics activity was registered below the planetary boundary layer (bottom left). As explained by Ruben yesterday, warm air advection aloft associated with a high pressure system over the Mid-Atlantic region are triggering this multi-day poor air quality event.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 8:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2012

Smoke Aloft from Colorado and Midwest US Over Baltimore; Code Orange and Yellow Ozone and PM2.5 concentrations along the Eastern United States

UMBC lidars have been operating non-stop since yesterday in support of the Maryland Department of the Environment, as Ozone and PM2.5 concentrations reached Code Orange and Yellow (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups and Moderate, respectively) AQI levels along the eastern coast of the United States. Clear skies, northwesterly transport, and warm air advection aloft associated with a high pressure system over the Mid-Atlantic United States are triggering this multi-day poor air quality event. Lidar observations (attenuated backscatter was plotted in a logarithmic scale to easily highlight today's observations) show the planetary boundary layer (PBL) extending up to 2 km, and above the PBL particle pollution extending up 6 km. According to NOAA HYSPLIT 48 hours back trajectories (Google Earth merged image- NOAA HYSPLIT and MODIS Terra AOD from June 18) of the air mass above the PBL indicate it was located over the Midwest US, where 2 days ago NOAA HMS reported the presence of smoke from the Colorado High Park and Little Sand Fires.

Today's MODIS Terra AOD retrieval reveals high readings along the eastern US due to associated with system discussed above. The high readings north of Tennessee, according to NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product are due to smoke from the fires in North Carolina.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 9:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2012

Fires concentrated in Southeast Region, with Strong fires in Colorado and N.C.

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 concentrations are in the southeast region, with many fires in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. The largest plumes are stretching across the Midwest region, which is most likely due to some of the larger fires ( the largest are the High Park and Springer fires in Colorado as mentioned in previous posts) in the Rocky Mountain region. The second image below shows the EPA AIRNOW AQI values for the U.S. There is a large amount of PM 2.5 and ozone in this region. There appears to be a surge of ozone in the Great Lakes states, that has moved down through some of the surrounding states, causing a few code oranges. The fires along the eastern seaboard are also depositing some smoke particulates and debris. The image below these also shows the forecasted 1 hour average ozone concentration (ppb) for the Great Lakes.

The first image below shows the Lance Webmapping Service, with the MODIS AQUA AOD overlaid on top of it. You can see the raised values of AOD in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes regions. The spotty raised values in southern Nevada are mostly due to smaller dust storms in that region. The next image, courtesy GASP, shows the MODIS AQUA AOD for the Northeast region. This image picked up a good portion of the large fires in North Carolina. You can see the largest AOD in that region on the coastline and you can see the smoke plumes heading north and eastward. This wildfire in the Croatan National Forest County has grown to more than 21,000 acres, generating heavy smoke that contains high levels of particle (PM 2.5) pollution. The fire is centered between Havelock and New Bern, and as long as the wind continues to pour into the Atlantic Ocean, there will be moderate and USG AQI levels.

Posted by John Sullivan at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2012

Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups AQI continues

Moderate (Code Yellow) and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) PM2.5AQI were observed again today across the Great Lakes, Southeast, Southern Plains, and Southwest states (top left, courtesy AIRNow). The HMS reports an extensive region of remnant smoke from the wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico affecting the central par of the US and new areas of light to moderately dense smoke situated just off the mid-atlantic coast (top right). Today's MODIS AOD image overlaid with RGB from the Terra satellite also indicates elevated AOD near the Colorado High Park fire as well as over portions of Oklahoma/ Kansas and the Great Lake states (bottom left). Elsewhere, raised levels of ozone continue to be a problem for the southern California valleys, Rocky Mountain, and Great Lake states as Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups levels were reached (bottom right).

Posted by Alexandra St Pe at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2012

Weekend edition: Dust storm in Arizona and fires/smoke updates

Many fires across the US were reported throughout this week. This weekend, HMS reported that thin smoke was observed "stretching from the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota back to the southwest through northern Nebraska, northern Colorado and into southeast Utah" (top, left). It is very likely that the source was the remnants of smoke from the fires in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

As we can see in the AIRNow animation loop from today (top, right) and the maps of ozone peak and average PM2.5 concentrations from yesterday, the smoke from those fires continue to impact the air quality in the surrounding regions. Unhealthy levels of ozone (for sensitive groups - code orange) was observed from Northeastern Wisconsin into the Michigan Peninsula and also in Southern California on Saturday. Today, as can be seen in the animation below, the air quality in both regions showed improvement, specially in the Midwest region.

Yesterday in Arizona, a very impressive dust storm was generated from a large thunderstorm outflow over the southeast portion of the state. The blowing dust moved across the Phoenix area and pictures from the storm can be seen in the abc15 website.
Mark Ruminski from HMS/NOAA kindly provided us with this nice animation of GOES-East imagery which shows not only the dust storm but different fires as well.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2012

Unhealthy Ozone levels in Great Lakes Region

Ozone levels (top right, courtesy AIRNow) in the Great Lakes regions reached unhealthy levels today. Code Red (Unhealthy) ozone levels were reported in Wisconsin, while Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) ozone levels were reported in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. An Air Quality Action Day has been declared in Michigan and Ohio tomorrow. PM2.5 levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow)   in the region were Moderate (Code Yellow). Hazard Mapping System (HMS, bottom left) shows smoke from the fires in Colorado and New Mexico covering Those two states as well as Texas, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, bottom right) reports moderate AOD levels in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.         
Posted by Jaime Compton at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2012

Fires and smoke from fires in Colorado persist

Air quality today was mainly good and moderate in some states in the afternoon. Moderate Ozone levels were reached in the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley regions during the afternoon (top left). PM2.5 levels were also moderate in California and Southeast region (top right).
HMS reported large wildfires in the west, specifically the High Park fire in northern Colorado and the Little Bear and Whitewater-Baldy fires in southern New Mexico. These fires continue to burn and have led to a large amount of remnant smoke moving eastward from the Colorado and New Mexico into Nebraska to Texas. The full extent of this smoke is difficult to discern due to the presence of clouds in that region (middle left). Aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieved by MODIS was high in Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma mainly due to the High park fire (middle right).

High Park fire in Colorado feature (courtesy: Earth Observatory).

The High Park Fire, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) west of Fort Collins, Colorado, was discovered just before 6:00 a.m. on June 9, 2012. Started by a lightning strike, the fire quickly grew, fueled by high winds and dry vegetation. By the morning of June 12, the fire had burned more than 43,000 acres (17,000 hectares), making it the third-largest fire in Colorado history. Smoke from the fire affected air quality up and down the populous Colorado Front Range, the eastern face of the southern Rocky Mountains. Officials warned residents to take precautions if they could see or smell smoke, and a Fort Collins hospital reported an increase in emergency room visits related to smoke inhalation. Much of the fuel for the High Park Fire is coming from stands of trees that have been killed by beetles; the insects have devastated forests in western North America. Images from MODIS on Aqua satellite are shown below.

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 6:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2012

Smoke over the Central US and Code Orange PM2.5 in Colorado; Clouds over Baltimore

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product reports a large area of light smoke from North Dakota southward into northern Mexico, as shown in the top left image. This remnant smoke is from the various fires, discussed in past few days here in the Smog Blog, over northern Mexico, New Mexico and Colorado. The smoke yielded the high AOD retrieved by the MODIS sensor in NASA's Aqua satellite (top right image).

Out of the fires producing the remnant smoke aloft observed today in the satellite retrievals, the High Park fires in Colorado are impacting the air quality (Airnow animation below) in Fort Collins, Colorado as PM2.5 concentrations reached Code Orange levels (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups). Cirrus clouds in the eastern coast of the United States hindered retrievals from satellites, but not for ELF. Lidar observations at UMBC shows the boundary layer extending up to 1.75 km, with cirrus clouds (8 to 13 km) advecting throughout the observations.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2012

Smoke across Central U.S. Ozone causes Code Orange for California. Dust in East CA/West NV

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 surrounding the central portion of the country and the New England region. The animation below shows the GASP AOD values for the Mid West region. You can see at the end of this animation that there is a large increase in the AOD near the corresponding fire locations in the previous image.

The first image below, taken from the NAAPS Aerosol Model, shows the aerosol amounts (ug/m3) throughout the country. This estimates large amounts of smoke particulates near the surface in the regions have large smoke over them. The next image shows EPA AIRNOW AQI values for California. There were many code oranges and yellows present in this region, mainly due to ozone. The high temperatures and large amounts of sunlight during this time of year mix with certain surface emissions to cause large amounts of ozone at the ground level.

The first image below, taken from CALIPSO, shows the overpass over most of the Midwest region and Texas. The increase in backscatter values in this region implies the increase of some aerosol or molecular constituent. Because of the large amounts of smoke from the previous images and posts, this is most likely due to the smoke. The next image, courtesy LANCE WebMapping Service and the AIRS Dust Score, shows a strong increase in dust over the Southwest region.

Posted by John Sullivan at 5:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2012

Broad area of remnant smoke impacting Central/Southern Plains & Northeast

The HMS analysis team reports several large regions of remnant smoke across the US caused from numerous wildfires burning in the Southwest (top left). Today's MODIS AOD image superimposed with RGB and NWS's large fire incident report indicates elevated AOD near and east of the persistent Little Bear New Mexico wildfire and recently burning High Park Colorado wildfire (top right). According to reports from the Denverpost, the High Park fire encompasses over 41,000 acres already with zero containment. The flames are believed to have started over the weekend due to a lightning strike from powerful storms that moved through the area.The MODIS sensor aboard NASA's AQUA satellite captured the impressive billows of smoke emanating from the quickly spreading fires yesterday (middle left). The upper level low pressure system that Ray mentioned in the previous post will continue to induce strong lower-level wind flow over the northern plain states as it progressing eastward towards the Great Lakes states (middle right, courtesy NOAA NWS). While it is likely that some of the smoke will be hauled east as the result of this weather system, NAAPS Aerosol forecasts suggest high smoke surface concentrations will linger over the Southwest and Plain states through the end of the week (bottom left). In terms of air quality, scattered Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups PM2.5 AQI were experienced across the Southwest, Plain and Southeast states.

Posted by Alexandra St Pe at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2012

Weekend edition: Little Bear fire sends smoke over Texas

The Little Bear Fire in NM (not the Whitewater-Baldy fire) is showing 32% containment but still is an impressive source of smoke. The GASP WEST image (left) shows that the smoke from the fire is sending a major AOD plume eastward. The Terra MODIS RGB image is striking today in linking the smoke plume over Texas with this New Mexico newsmaker.

UPDATE: 6/10/12 13:00 EDT

Ozone was high overnight in Michigan and Southern California. Code Orange readings were reported in Wisconsin at 2:00AM which is unusual. The Midatlantic Forecast by Bill Ryan at PSU for Sunday afternoon is predicted to be Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups because of the upwind ozone.

There is a disturbance in the force last night. There is a low pressure area over Montana and when you have high overnight O3, something is going on aloft. I pulled a Texas Wisconsin cross-section from our friends at College of DuPage and there is a low stratosphere over Wisconsin (down to 400mb) and there is a southerly jet beneath it. We'd have to run a potential vorticity cross-section to see if there may have been a tropospheric fold last night.

UPDATE #2: 6/10/12 19:00 EDT

The Little Bear fire continues to throw out smoke today (left, below) and the smoke is widespread across Oklahoma. In Colorado a rapidly growing wildfire in the High Park area west of Fort Collins is over 14,000 acres at this point and the winds continue to force the fire to grow. We'll have to watch this one over the next few days.

Posted by Ray Hoff at 5:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2012

Code Orange and high NO2 levels in southern California; Smoke continues being emitted by Whitewater-Baldy fire;

PM2.5 and ozone levels (top left and right, courtesy AIRNow) reached Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) in southern California today. High tropospheric NO2 levels (OMI bottom right) were reported in southern California as well. Smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy fire continues to be emitted today as was reported by NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS, bottom left) and seen by MODIS AQUA true color image. Code Yellow ozone levels  and moderate NO2 levels were reported throughout the northern Plains States and the Great Lakes regions. An Air Quality Action day has been declared in West Michigan for ozone tomorrow due to warm surface temperatures and a high pressure system pushing precipitation north and bringing in warm and muggy air into the state (AIRNow).

Posted by Jaime Compton at 7:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 7, 2012

Good to Moderate AQI levels; Fires and smofe from fires in New Mexico and Canada

Today, air quality was good in terms of PM2.5. Moderate concentration levels were reached in Florida and Southern California (top right). Ozone levels were good during the morning in the entire Country but turned moderate in the afternoon especially in the central plains and California (top left). The fires in New Mexico and Mexico continue to produce large plumes of smoke. The smoke is covering pretty much all the state of New Mexico and southern Colorado (bottom left). In addition, fires were burning in Mississippi, Arkansas and the Carolinas. Smoke was also detected over the Gulf of Texas as well as in northern Canada. According to the fires in northern Mexico and New Mexico, Modis true color image shows the smoke plumes in those regions (bottom right).

Posted by Daniel Orozco at 9:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2012

Moderate Ozone in Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Plains States; Smoke over Plains States

Ozone concentrations reached Code Yellow AQI levels, as shown in EPA's Airnow animation, in Arizona, California, Rocky Mountain, and Plains States. The highest tropospheric NO2 concentrations reported over these locations, according to KNMI OMI Google Earth image, are coincidental with locations that experienced the higher ozone measurements. When NO2 is photolysed in the atmosphere, it gives out an atomic oxygen that reacts with O2 to produce ozone.

NOAA's Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product reported the presence of smoke over Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Missouri (left image below). This smoke is from the wildfires in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Canada. Smoke was observed as well over most of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and northern Mexico. Regarding the Whitewater/Baldy Complex fires in New Mexico, a total of 263,589 acres have burnt with 30% of the fires contained, according to INCIWEB. Burn scars from these fires are shown in the "false color" image below.

Posted by Ruben Delgado at 8:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 5, 2012

Fires in Mississippi Valley and Smoke Across Texas and Southwest Region. Dust/Sand Blowing causes Code Red in CA.

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 strongest concentrations of fires are in the Mississippi Valley region. The largest smoke plumes, though, are above Texas and the Southwest Region. This plume appears to be following the low pressure system sweeping northwards from the gulf. In the second image emphasizes this counter-clockwise low pressure system over Texas in the GASP AOD image. You can also see the increased AOD from the smoke in the animation.

The first image below, courtesy CALIPSO, shows the 532 nm Total Attenuated Backscatter (which is the radiation being reflected directly backwards from the constituent aerosol, with higher values corresponding to higher concentrations of aerosol at 532 nm). The image is centered over Texas, where you can see large aerosol activity in the first few kilometers.
It also looks like there may be an aerosol layer aloft in the left portion of the image, but with cloud contamination it is hard to tell. The data and graph below, courtesy AIRNOWTECH, shows the PM 2.5 surface concentrations surrounding Nipoma, California (San Luis Obispo County). These PM values led to the highest AQI values of the day of around 155 which puts them in the code red category. Although the plot is for PM 2.5, the PM 10 are much stronger in this region. This is a typical sign that there is dust or sand blowing in the region, and with the Oceano Dunes nearby this is most likely sand. (The AIRS Dust Score shows nothing.)

Posted by John Sullivan at 8:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2012

For one day, speaking out on muzzling science is more important

Posted by Ray Hoff at 9:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 3, 2012

Weekend wrap-up: Moderate to unhealthy ozone levels in Southwestern US;

This weekend, ozone levels reached code orange in Southwestern US from Southern California to New Mexico, most likely due to the combination of high temperatures and the many fires burning in Sonora/Chihuahua, Mexico and the Baldy-Whitewater fire in New Mexico. Today's HMS fire product showed an extensive area covered by smoke from fires in Canada and also from the fires in the Southwest, previously mentioned.

On the left you can see the peak of ozone levels from yesterday and on the right side the AQI animation from today, in which ozone, instead of PM2.5, was again the biggest contributor of pollution.

In Baltimore this week, we observed smoke from a few fires and the air quality in the Mid-Atlantic region reached moderate levels in terms of ozone on Thursday (below, left). On Friday, in the East Coast, we were swept by severe thunderstorms which not only cleaned the air with heavy rain, but also left behind lots of destruction, unfortunately. You can read some reports on the storm here. In the animated GASP product you can clearly see the clouds moving across Maryland and other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast that were also affected.

Posted by Patricia Sawamura at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2012

Code Red Ozone in Texas and California; Smoke from New Mexico Forest Fire Spreads West

Ozone levels (top left, courtesy AIRNow) reached Code Red (Unhealthy) in Texas and California today. Areas along the Central Valley and southern parts of California mainly experienced Code Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) ozone levels. PM2.5 levels (top right, courtesy AIRNow) in southern California reached Code Yellow (Moderate) levels.  Much of Texas experienced Code Yellow ozone levels , while in Houston, Code Orange and Red ozone levels were reported.


The HMS image shows smoke from the wildfires moving in a clockwise direction down into Mexico and back up into Arizona. This is supported by the NOAA HYSPLIT forward trajectory model (left) which shows the clockwise movement of the smoke. The MODIS Terra AOD map (IDEA, right) reports high AOD levels as a result of the smoke. The smoke was also visible on today's MODIS TERRA true color image. Code Yellow ozone levels were reported in New Mexico and Arizona today. This is possibly due to the smoke from the wildfires.

Posted by Jaime Compton at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)