NASA has released striking satellite images of wildfire smoke clouds covering vast swaths of the U.S., from the West Coast all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA’s Earth Observatory released the two images on July 23. The first image, captured on July 20 using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the NOAA-20 satellite, clearly shows a band of smoke drifting eastward, as well as fresh plumes of smoke above California and British Columbia.
The second, captured on July 21, maps the concentration of black carbon particulates — commonly called soot — across North America. The data, collected by the Global Modeling Assimilation Office (GMAO) at NASA, showed particularly high concentrations in several U.S. states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Kentucky, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and California, as well as in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.In New York City, levels of fine particulate pollution rose above 170 on the air quality index, which is potentially harmful even for healthy people, according to the Earth Observatory.
“That’s a magnitude of particle pollution that New York City hasn’t seen in more than a decade,” Ryan Stauffer, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in the statement.
In total, 79 wildfires have burned more than 2,263 square miles (5,860 square kilometers) in the U.S. and more than 21,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel are battling the blazes as of July 22, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.