Siberian smoke tracked to North America

I wonder how much of the EPA’s perceived air pollution problems in the USA actually originate elsewhere?

From NASA:

Satellite Sees Smoke from Siberian Fires Reach the U.S. Coast

Fires burning in Siberia recently sent smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the U.S. and Canada. Images of data taken by the nation’s newest Earth-observing satellite tracked aerosols from the fires taking six days to reach America’s shores.

Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite’s Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) tracks aerosols, like this smoke, that are transported by winds across the globe. 

The Voice of Russia reported that 11,000 hectares (about 42.4 square miles) of forests in Siberia were on fire in May and that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations says roughly 80 percent of these fires are intentionally set to clear land for farming.

Colin Seftor, an atmospheric physicist working for Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md. studies aerosols using OMPS data and created images from them.

“This smoke event is one example that shows that what happens over one area of the earth can easily affect another area thousands of miles away, whether it’s from Asia to North America or North America to Europe, and so on. Not only smoke and dust can get carried long distance. Pollutants, and even disease-carrying spores can be carried by the prevailing winds. For this event, I found out that the smoke plumes were lofted up to at least 12 kilometers (or about 7.5 miles) from the intense heat of the fires. At that point the smoke got picked up by higher level winds,” Seftor says. Seftor false-colored the images to make the data stand out. He said,” The colors on the image are artificial, but what they convey is a sense of the density of the smoke.” In the images, he used blue and green colors to represent less smoke. Yellows and pink represent more smoke. Seftor showed smoke density by the level of transparency in the coloration. The less dense the smoke is the more you can see through it, and the more dense it is, the less you can see through it.

The thickest area of smoke appears over Mongolia. This high concentration is transported across the Pacific Ocean and crosses into Alaska.

Seftor says that unlike photographs, satellite data shows researchers the difference between reflections of smoke and dust from those from snow, ice or the tops of clouds. The UV (ultra-violet) aerosol index is helpful because it makes “seeing” dust and smoke easier even when that background is bright. The aerosol index allows him to separate the aerosol signal from the background.

“One of the biggest uncertainties we’ve had in terms of understanding our climate has to do with aerosols and what exactly aerosols do to the climate,” Seftor says, adding that the OMPS instrument adds to and expands on decades of scientific research. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) was the precursor to OMPS. “Climate changes often occur over long periods, and it takes decades of data and measurements to detect and understand them. ”

The JPSS program, funded by NOAA, provides the ground segment for Suomi NPP. NOAA and the Department of Defense funded the OMPS instrument. Seftor uses MODIS RGB imagery from National Earth Observations web site: They provide full global MODIS RGB (cloud) imagery, which he manipulates and re-projected to provide the background for these images.

There’s a video showing time-lapse, here


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John in NZ
June 12, 2012 9:09 am

I wonder how much of that black soot ended up on arctic ice, causing it to melt?

June 12, 2012 9:11 am

They can tell the difference between smoke and well mixed carbon dioxide and local pollutants.
When did this board get taken over by the Gateway Pundit?

June 12, 2012 9:15 am

Fires burning in Siberia recently sent smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the U.S. and Canada.
All that heat will melt the muskeg, releasing a brazillion cubic kilometers of methane to hasten Global Warming and melt the Arctic ice, and then the rising sea levels will — uhhh — put out the fires…

Gail Combs
June 12, 2012 9:35 am

A friend in Alaska complains of all the smog they are now getting from China.

Crispin in Waterloo
June 12, 2012 9:35 am

11,000 ha? That is at least 2 billion kg of CO2. How much will be burning in June and July?
Better not let your car idle.

geography lady
June 12, 2012 10:04 am

Decades ago measurements were taken of pollution and particulates on the west coasts of the US, that came from China. Also dust aerosols from the Mongolian desert. It is interesting in using the satellites for origin of these pollutants (actual not percieved).

June 12, 2012 10:06 am

Many times in Texas we have RED sunsets – the cause – airborne dust from the Gobi desert in China.

June 12, 2012 10:07 am

I reported the other day on one aspect of your question: “I wonder how much of the EPA’s perceived air pollution problems in the USA actually originate elsewhere?”
See my article over at Master Resource “Asian Air Pollution Warms U.S More than Our GHG Emissions (More futility for U.S. EPA)
-Chip Knappenberger

June 12, 2012 10:07 am

And those Siberian forests are probably healthier for these fires. If you can’t harvest the trees, then those forests HAVE to burn periodically.

Gary Pearse
June 12, 2012 11:20 am

I recall reports from the late 60s of sulphur and heavy metals detected in the air and (I believe) in the water at Aishihik Lake area in Yukon Territory believed to have come from China’s smelting industry at the time.

June 12, 2012 12:14 pm

This is a subset, in a way, of the infamous Asian Brown Cloud.

June 12, 2012 12:19 pm

Happens frequently here in the UK when numerous air quality monitoring stations all detect elevated levels of PM10 and PM2.5 – we have seen some severe episodes under certain meteorological conditions -some can hang around for several days with resultant breaches of EU air quality objectives (these can be disagregated sometimes) Back trajectory traces of the air mass usually show the origin to be eastern Europe.

Gunga Din
June 12, 2012 1:31 pm

At least now we know where the smoke screen Obama’s EPA is hiding behind came from. The same country Lenin is from.

June 12, 2012 2:11 pm

John in NZ says:
June 12, 2012 at 9:09 am
I wonder how much of that black soot ended up on arctic ice, causing it to melt?

I don’t know about Siberian soot but check out these images of black ice in the Arctic.
Even Dr. James Hansen is or rather was aware of the problem of soot in the Arctic. He used to think it was twice as effective as Co2 in causing warming.

Reply to  Jimbo
June 12, 2012 3:07 pm

Did all of the ICE cap melt after all of the great volcanoes of the past 1,000 years – I do not think so –

June 12, 2012 2:17 pm

Great news!!!! Never mind the traces of smoke only a radical environmentalist could smell here — maybe it means Siberia is getting warmer as it continues to recover naturally from the terrors of the Little Ice Age and Stalin’s concentration camp archipelago. But maybe the news is even better if Russian farmers are clearing the land to grow more crops that can prevent malnutrition or starvation as the Earth’s human population continues to grow. What kind of inhumanity would fault this progress and piss on that smoke?

June 12, 2012 2:55 pm

Just 42.4 square miles? Compared to the wildfires burning right now in the Western US, primarily due to incompetent US Forest Service, BLM, and Fish and Wildlife Service Management plans, 42.4 square miles is little more than a baby wildfire!
See Excerpt Here:
New Mexico, Colorado fires burn out of control
Monday, June 11, 2012
“Authorities are ramping up the fight against large wildfires burning out of control in northern Colorado and southern New Mexico.
“Ten air tankers, half of them large aircraft, were at a fire burning on nearly 60 square miles in a mountainous area about 15 miles west of Fort Collins on Monday. One person is missing in the fire.
And See Excerpt Here:
Pearce and Forest Service clash as Little Bear Fire rages
By Rob Nikolewski on June 10, 2012
“As firefighters battle the Little Bear Fire that has destroyed at least 36 structures in the Ruidoso area, Congressman Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) and an official with the US Forest Service had a heated exchange over the agency’s handling of the wildfire that as of Sunday afternoon had charred more than 26,000 acres in the mountainous terrain of south-central New Mexico.
“The Little Bear Fire started back on June 4, due to a lightning strike in the Lincoln National Forest. The fire was not snuffed out completely and by Friday it had spread to Ruidoso, forcing the evacuations of hundreds of people as the blaze grew to cover roughly 40 square miles.
“In a meeting Saturday night, Pearce criticized fire officials for not putting water or retardant down in the fire’s early stages.
“Pearce has been a longtime critic of the wildfire tactics of forest officials.
“Just three days before the Little Bear Fire started, he issued a news release pointing to the Whitewater-Baldy Fire in the Gila National Forest that is still burning, saying the “US Forest Service bureaucracy in Washington … caters to extreme interest groups that stop responsible forest management. Because the Forest Service refuses to permit logging in our forests, they are overcrowded with trees that go up in flames during droughts, and invite massive conflagrations like we see in the Gila. It would be far easier to thin the forest conscientiously in advance than resort to emergency fire suppression, which risks lives and property.”

June 12, 2012 3:00 pm

What about Fukushima ? I think that’s a bigger problem. I thing forest fires are natural something that happend in the past and as long as there are trees will happen in the future.

June 12, 2012 8:54 pm

“Brad says:
June 12, 2012 at 9:11 am
They can tell the difference between smoke and well mixed carbon dioxide and local pollutants.
When did this board get taken over by the Gateway Pundit?”
To answer your 2nd question 1st….it hasn’t.
To answer your 1st….did you even read the article? The satellite picked it up IN Siberia and followed it across to Alaska/Yukon. It didn`t pick it up mid-Pacific.It didn`t pick it up sneaking into China. It was followed from the source to the drop-off point(which is probably well beyond Alaska,Northwestern Canada).Oh. I get it. The AGW pixies and unicorns where out,sowing CFC`s,etc.

June 13, 2012 1:22 am

Fukushima – US Patients doing urine heavy metals testing ALL SHOW Radioactive Thorium in their urine since Fukushima March 11th 2011 ! 06/12/12 – HOUR THREE
Three weeks into the nuclear crisis in Japan, minute traces of radioactive dust have circled the globe, even arriving in Maryland and Virginia.
Just one radioactive particle in the lungs and the clock starts ticking.

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