United States: smoke from fires in California and Oregon reaches Europe

Data provided by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service show fires with “unprecedented” activity.

Lhe fires ravaging the American West are “tens to hundreds of times” more intense than the average for the past 15 years, with particularly thick smoke that has even reached Europe, according to the European Copernicus Climate Change Service .

Thanks to satellite observations, “we are monitoring the scale of fires and the pollution of smoke carried across the United States and beyond,” Mark Parrington, scientist in the Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in a statement Wednesday. of Copernicus (CAMS).

These data show that this year, the activity of these “unprecedented” fires is “tens to hundreds of times more intense than the average over the period 2003-2019 over the entire United States as well as in several states. affected, ”said the service.

The fires also emit a lot of smoke, and those in California and Oregon have already released into the atmosphere “far more carbon in 2020 than any other year since CAMS began to measure in 2003”: 21, 7 megatonnes in California and 7.3 megatonnes in Oregon.

The particularly thick smoke even traveled to Europe.

Satellite images show that the smoke remained off the Pacific coast of the United States for several days due to the weather conditions, but has been blowing again towards North America in recent days.

Fires linked to climate change

CAMS estimates “that the smoke is starting to cross the Atlantic again, and will reach northern Europe later in the week, as it did at the end of last week”.

“The fact that these fires emit so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke 8,000 km away reflects how devastating they are, in terms of scale and duration,” insisted Mark Parrington.

In total, more than two million hectares of vegetation have already been consumed since mid-August from the Canadian border to that of Mexico.

According to scientific consensus, the exceptional scale of these forest fires is linked to climate change, which aggravates chronic drought and causes extreme weather conditions.

But President Donald Trump has again sparked controversy by appearing to deny the role of climate change in these extraordinary forest fires.


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