Heavy smoke from the dozens of wildfires blazing up and down the West Coast has traveled as far east as Europe — nearly 5,000 miles — satellite images show.
Images released by the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service show the smoke moving from the western U.S. and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
Meanwhile, the smoke is still creating hazardous conditions in the West. The haze is so thick that it has cooled expected record-high temperatures for September by 10 degrees, according to climate scientists.
The aerosol optical depth, which is the measure of how much sunlight is blocked by aerosol particles in the atmosphere, has reached levels of seven or above, according to CAMS, which is part of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. To put this in perspective, a level one AOD measurement already implies poor air quality and hazy conditions.
“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8,000 kilometers away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration,” CAMS Senior Scientist Mark Parrington said in a statement.
The fires also have emitted far more carbon in 2020 than in any other year since CAMS began recording data in 2003.
While crews are starting to gain containment on several fires, dozens are still burning, and millions of acres in California and Oregon have been scorched.
More than two dozen people have died.