Siberian fire smoke: where does it go?

The European Union’s Observation Programme, Copernicus, and its Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) predicted that in July smoke from fires in the Sakha, far east of Russia, would travel an astonishing 9500 km – across the Arctic Ocean to Alaska, North-West Canada and the west coast of Greenland.

According to a recent press release, “CAMS Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) estimates that between 2003 and 2017 Russian wildfires emitted on average about five mega tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per day. At the end of June this year, the fires suddenly increased in intensity, upping their carbon dioxide output to approximately 20 mega tonnes per day.” This is not new; Siberian summer season is no stranger to wildfires, but being able to predict the movement of the smoke can help to prevent effects of affected areas.

We recently dedicated a post to ways of reducing vulnerability by being proactive in the fire-, land- and forest- management; and informed about the wildfire situation in Sweden, Ireland, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Poland. As said in the press release: “Wildfires increase emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. Their smoke is an example of an aerosol – a specific type of pollutant made up of tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere. Particles of smoke can land on snow and ice, causing the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, which contributes to global warming.” If one knows where the smoke particles will affect, countermeasures can be put into place to mitigate the negative effects.

CAMS describes the current situation, gives a forecast for the next few days, and analyses retrospective data records for recent years. Using its atmospheric models, CAMS is able to predict the journey that the smoke would make before it is observed by satellites and ground-based detectors.

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