Suomi Sees Asian Fires Migrate To North America

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Colin Seftor: The images that I made basically came from a new instrument that’s on the Suomi NPP satellite, called OMPS. 

OMPS’s main mission is to measure ozone but one of the other neat things it can do is, it can detect smoke and dust. 

What you are looking at in the images is something that’s called the aerosol index. 

The amount of aerosols in the atmosphere do depend on season. 

Typically you see a lot of smoke in the atmosphere during the spring. 

The smoke is essentially being produced by fires in sort of the boarder between Russia and China. 

In order to grow crops and clear the land, they start burning to clear whatever land they want to clear. 

In the case of these fires, the smoke can get lofted to four kilometers to maybe ten kilometers in the atmosphere. 

At that point they get picked up by higher level winds and they get transported globally. 

In this case we saw that the smoke was transported all the way to North America.

And in certain cases we see smoke that actually circles the globe.

The colors on the image are artificial. But what they are meant to convey is basically a sense of the density of the smoke. So that they bluer and greener colors represent less smoke. The yellow and the reds represent more smoke. 

Along with the weather I sort of added a level of transparency. So, 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.

Aerosols are an increasingly important aspect of studying what’s happening to the climate. 

Climate occurs over a long period of time. We need a long-term dataset to follow what is happening and to better understand what is happening. 

So, it is important to keep this climate record going and OMPS being the next instrument in line, it is going to pick up the slack and continue the record.  

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Beeping satellite.