Smoke from wildfires in Canada spreads around the world

Smoke from wildfires in Canada spreads around the world

People with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease are most affected by smoking. The elderly and children with asthma and serious health conditions are also at risk.

Canada is currently experiencing its worst fire season yet, with the season still weeks away. By the end of June, satellite images showed that Canada’s smoke had reached most of the United States — with 21 states warning people about air quality — and even reached Europe. The NASA Earth Observatory noted that the smoke had reached and been in southwestern Europe Most visible over Portugal and Spain.

A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image, taken on June 26, shows smoke from wildfires in Canada reaching Spain and Portugal.

Emphasizing that 2023 is the worst fire season in history, Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, said: “We’ve had very serious fire seasons in the past, but this is only by sheer magnitude beyond our historical experience.”

On July 13, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center (CIFFC) The National Fire Situation Report said there were 904 active fires – of which four are new, 574 are out of control, 218 are under control and 112 are “held”, which means that under prevailing conditions and with the existing workforce, it should These fires shall not spread further.

CIFFC Daily Fire Report, July 13, 2023. (Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center)

Sunday The British Columbia Fire Service reported 98 new fires within 24 hours – and he said most of these (three-quarters) were started by lightning.

The toxicity of ambient aerosols increases with atmospheric age, increasing to up to four times the values ​​seen in fresh smoke.

A study of forest fire smoke in Europe Phyogenic shifts affecting climate and health (PyroTRACH) project addressed “the topic of burning biomass (BB) and how it may affect particulate matter in the atmosphere…because BB aerosols are highly toxic, interact with solar radiation and can affect cloud formation and evolution.”

PyroTRACH has been tracking wildfires in Greece and the Mediterranean region for about four years and has found that, as the atmosphere ages, wildfire smoke becomes four times more toxic:

“From the analysis of ambient samples collected so far, we have found that aerosol toxicity increases with age in the atmosphere, increasing up to four times the values ​​seen in fresh smoke.”

New York is hot

Traffic moves over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge as smoke from Canadian wildfires casts a haze over New York City on June 7, 2023 (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Wildfire smoke, he says Science.orgIt can remain in the atmosphere for weeks or even months. research study (“Chlorine activation and increased aerosol-induced ozone depletion”) by MIT, co-authored by Dough Kinnison of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, focused on Australian bushfires in 2019-2020. Kinnison says the research shows that “wildfire smoke can have a profound effect on stratospheric chemistry.” .

Talking to Daily Maverick From Alberta, Canada, at the beginning of July — as South African firefighters are still helping to put out the blazes — firefighter Trevor Abrahams said he had seen reports that “160 million tons of pollution had seeped into the atmosphere from fires so far.

A South African firefighter works against a smoky sky in Alberta, Canada, on July 11, 2023 (Image: WORKING ON THE FIRE)

Special report for the year 2020 entitled “Wildfires, global climate change and human health“Human-induced climate change” can be seen most clearly when looking at wildfires, he says. The report examined wildfires in Australia and the Amazon rainforest in Brazil (2019-2020), the western United States (2018 and 2020) and Canadian British Columbia (2017). and 2018), calling wildfires a “living manifestation” of human-caused climate change.

The report also refers to lightning strikes (“A single lightning strike can heat the air around it to 30,000°C (50,000°F)!) is becoming a more common occurrence as the continent warms. The heated air, as it rises, cools and forms precipitation, which, when the atmosphere is unstable, leads to thunderstorms and lightning—a major problem in the current wildfires in Canada.

Image: NASA

says Michelle Bell, one of the authors of the report Daily Maverick that currently Canadian smog has affected regions of the United States “from the Northeast to the Midwest. Some areas have extremely high levels of pollution, resulting in yellow skies.”

Bell, Professor Mary E. Pinchot of Environmental Health at Yale School of the Environment: “Wildfires are increasing because of climate change… The wildfire season will start earlier… be more intense, occur more often and last longer.”

Siberian Emergency

Summer fires raged in eastern Russia, as the region was battered by sweltering heat, thunder and thunderstorms. On July 3 A.I A state of emergency has been declared in Siberia due to the raging forest fires. About a month earlier, on May 8, the head of Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency, Ivan Sovetnikov, told the media that they expected most major fires to be brought under control within two to three days.

Siberia has seen more severe weather and fires over the past few years, with Russia experiencing its most intense fire seasons in 2021.

Wildfires in the region pose a particular threat in that they may melt permafrost and release carbon into the atmosphere.

Microbes that have existed for hundreds of years have been discovered in permafrost and some scientists believe viruses such as Bubonic plague and smallpox may still be present Inside this layer is frozen and can become active again when thawed. DM


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