Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features shows wildfire smoke from Canada pouring into the northeastern United States.
“Winds typically move smoke from fires in Quebec toward the east and out to sea. But in June 2023, a persistent coastal low centered near Prince Edward Island instead steered smoke south into the United States. This image, from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16), shows smoke sweeping into New York and Pennsylvania on the morning of June 7, 2023,” says NASA.
“Smoke reaching the northeastern United States from Canada in 2023 from fires raging in western Canada has mostly arrived at fairly high altitudes. But since the fires in Quebec are relatively close to the northeast U.S., a much larger proportion of the smoke arrived in surface-level air.”
“Around the time of the image, AirNow air quality monitors measured levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) soaring above 400 micrograms per cubic meter of air in Syracuse, New York – the highest on record for the city since routine measurements began in 1999.”
Ryan Stauffer, an atmospheric scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, noted that the smoke pollution from New York to the D.C. region is the most significant since at least July 2002, when a similar situation occurred with nearby fires in Quebec. “This event is rivaling, and in some cases will likely surpass the observed 2002 smoke pollution.”
According to Stauffer, the air quality index for PM2.5 in New York City surpassed 175 (code red) on June 6, topping the previous record of 167 from 2002. On June 7, “the D.C. region joined New York City and experienced some of its most smoke-polluted air in the past 25 years,” he said.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory