Raging wildfires in Western Canada - Earth.com

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Western Canada, where more than 100 wildfires broke out in early May. According to NASA, tens of thousands of people in Alberta and British Columbia were forced to evacuate. 

“The fires destroyed homes and produced chimneys of smoke that reached into the upper troposphere,” said NASA.

“The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this image (above) of smoke billowing from fires in the two Canadian provinces on May 6, 2023. On that day, officials in Alberta declared a provincial state of emergency.”

“The fires in Alberta have been so intense they have produced towering chimneys of smoke. Using remote sensing, researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, observed the formation of a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud billowing from a wildfire west of Edmonton on May 4.”

The researchers analyzed measurements from the GOES-18 satellite and determined that temperatures at the top of the cloud were as cold as -61°C. 

This temperature indicates that the smoke reached an altitude of 12 kilometers, which puts the top of the pyrocumulonimbus cloud within the tropopause – the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Editor

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