Smoke over North America

In Canada and Alaska, 2015 has been the year for wildfires. As of 08 July, the number of acres burned in Alaska has been the second highest in recorded history. In Canada the acres burned already exceeds the annual 10-year average for an entire year (image below). The government has deployed 1,000 military personnel to help fight wildfires in Saskatchewan (information and image provided by Wildfire Today).

Canada are burned on a weekly basis through week of July 1, 2015 (click to enlarge)

Canada are burned on a weekly basis through week of July 1, 2015 (click to enlarge)

As of 08 July the United States has had 30,017 fires burning 3,821,726 acres, Alaska has had 650 fires burning 3,208,107 acres, and Canada has had 4,672 fires burning 6,546,562 acres. The images below show the fire activity for Canada and Alaska at 2:45 UTC on 09 July (courtesy of Wildfire Today).

Canada Fires at 02:45 UTC on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Canada Fires at 02:45 UTC on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Alaska Fires at 02:45 UTC on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Alaska Fires at 02:45 UTC on 09 July (click to enlarge)

From these wildfires, massive amounts of smoke have been produced. This smokes has been covering parts of Canada and the United States for most of the summer. OMPS Aerosol Index (AI) helps show the transport of this smoke. Below is the image of the OMPS AI on 04 July (courtesy of Colin Seftor and information from Rene). On this image are three different areas with very high AI values. The first area is around the Great Lakes at 47.72 N 88.3 W with an AI value of 14.3 at 18:46 UTC. This cluster was produce by numerous fires in Saskatcehwan. This smoke could possibly be from the three pyroCbs that produced at 21:00 UTC on 03 July. Farther north the next area at 52.27 N 92.5 W had an AI value of 16.6 at 18:48 UTC. This cluster again is most likely from the pyroCbs in Saskatachewan. The last cluster to the west at 53.84 N 106.07 W produced an AI value of 11.1 at 18:48 UTC. This cluster came from the fires in northern Alberta.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 04 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 04 July (click to enlarge)

On 06 July the OMPS AI index image (courtesy of Colin Seftor) provides information about the smoke transport since 04 July. There are two areas of very high AI values. The first that covers part of Washington and Montana is from a fire in British Columbia that produced a pyroCb on 05 July. The other are of very high AI value is in the center of Canada. This value is from the multiple fires in Saskatchewan, some even producing pyroCbs.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 06 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 06 July (click to enlarge)

The OMPS AI index images (courtesy of Colin Seftor) on 07 July show the transport of smoke across Canada and into the North Pole. The first image shows high AI values from fires in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. There are high AI values in Montana and North Dakota from the fires in British Columbia. The second image shows high AI values from fires in Alaska. This smoke is not moving east like it usually does, but is moving northwest into the North Pole.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 07 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 07 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 07 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 07 July (click to enlarge)

Furthermore, the northwestward drift of the smoke from Alaska can be seen using VIIRS visible imagery.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-Color visible image of Alaska Smoke o 07 July (click to animate)

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-Color visible image of Alaska Smoke o 07 July (click to animate)

On 08 July the OMPS AI index image (courtesy of Colin Seftor) showed the AI index in the shape of a wishbone. These high values of AI came from fires in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Furthermore, Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color visible, shortwave IR, and IR images showed the smoke adding a  light brown hue to the convective clouds. This visible image correlates nicely with the high AI values shown in the first image. Also, the visible image shows smoke plumes originating form a cluster of hot spots just east of the Yukon/Northwest Territories.  In addition, from the IR image the coldest cloud-top brightness temperatures were between -59ºC to -60ºC.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 08 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 08 July (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS visible, shortwave IR, and IR at 20:54 UTC on 08 July (click to animate)

Suomi NPP VIIRS visible, shortwave IR, and IR at 20:54 UTC on 08 July (click to animate)

By 09 July the max AI values were in the northern part of the United States. OMPS AI index images (courtesy of Colin Seftor) show a band of smoke extending the northern part of the United States. This smoke is coming from fires in British Columbia, possibly from a fire that produced a pyroCb a few days later.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 09 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 09 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 09 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 09 July (click to enlarge)

This smoke has provided some interesting features on visible and water vapor imagery. The images below show visible and water vapor imagery on 09 July at 17:45 UTC (courtesy of Darren Clabo). These images show this smoke band extending from Montana to the middle of Minnesota.

Visible imagery on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Visible imagery on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Water vapor imagery on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Water vapor imagery on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Furthermore, this air seems to be trapped with a ribbon of very dry air associated with lowering of the dynamic tropopause. The reason the tropopause is lowering is due to a potential vorticity anomaly moving eastward across Minnesota. Furthermore, with this smoke being trapped in dry air it is common for it to cause stratospheric intrusions. By looking at the Total Column Ozone (shown in the image below) there are higher values in the ribbon of dry air. This is conclusive with the hypothesis that there are some stratospheric intrusions within this ribbon of dry air.

Total Column Ozone on 09 July (click to enlarge)

Total Column Ozone on 09 July (click to enlarge)

In addition, there are two vortices over Montana. The image below tweeted by the NWS office in Glasgow, MT shows the vortices. In addition, the GOES visible imagery below shows the two vortices on 10 July starting at 11:30 UTC.

Visible image over Montana on 10 July (click to enlarge)

Visible image over Montana on 10 July (click to enlarge)

GOES-15 visible imagery on 10 July (click to play animation)

GOES-15 visible imagery on 10 July (click to play animation)

On 10 July the OMPS AI index image (courtesy of Colin Seftor) showed the smoke that was in the northern part of the United States on 09 July moving east and off to the eastern coast.

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 10 July (click to enlarge)

OMPS Aerosol Index image on 10 July (click to enlarge)

 

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