Fires across California continue to rage on, having scorched more than 3.2 million acres of the Golden State. The fires have spread as far as Washington State, which is separated from California by Oregon – which is also experiencing the full force of the blaze. Now European researchers have discovered that such is the density of the smoke being produced by the fires that it has reached as far as Europe.
Observations from the EU’s Copernicus climate monitoring satellite has found the smoke is affecting the air quality up to 8,000 kilometres away, reaching northern Europe.
The smoke managed to reach European shores thanks to the jet stream which carried it east, all across the US to and over the Atlantic Ocean to reach Europe.
NY Metro Weather said the smoke was clearly visible in the skies over New York on Tuesday, September 15.
Data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) showed the fires are “tens to hundreds of times more intense” than the recent average.
The data also revealed that the fires have emitted more than 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since mid-August.
Mark Parrington, CMAS senior scientist and wildfire expert, said: “The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers [since 2003].
“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8000 kilometres away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration.”
NASA has said scientists are at a “loss for words” to describe the wildfires which have led to the deaths of at least 33 people across western US.
Due to global warming, scientists had suspected that the wildfires would get worse year on year, but none predicted they would accelerate this quickly in the US.
NASA said: “Climate and fire scientists have long anticipated that fires in the US West would grow larger, more intense, and more dangerous.
“But even the most experienced among them have been at a loss for words in describing the scope and intensity of the fires burning in West Coast states in September 2020.
“Lightning initially triggered many of the fires, but it was unusual and extreme meteorological conditions that turned some of them into the worst conflagrations in the region in decades.
“Record-breaking air temperatures, periods of unusually dry air, and blasts of fierce winds – on top of serious drought in some areas – led fires to ravage forests and loft vast plumes of smoke to rarely seen heights.”