The dust from the US forest fires has reached Europe, but it poses no threat to residents. Globally, emissions of smog and large amounts of carbon dioxide should be of concern because they affect the climate-Krzysztof Skotak of the Institute of Environmental Protection-National Research Institute told PAP.
At the end of summer, a large-scale historic forest fire broke out on the west coast of the United States. The states have suffered the most: Oregon, Washington, and California. In the latter, more than 1.2 million hectares have been burned this year-which is 26 times the amount between 2019 and September. Smoke from the space fire lingers throughout Oregon, and the air quality is currently one of the worst states in the world. In many cities, including San Francisco, the sky has turned yellow and orange.
Last week, the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS, Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service), which operates at the European Middle Distance Weather Forecast Center, detected that the dust emitted during the US fire had spread 8,000 times. Kilometers to Northern Europe. CAMS allows you to analyze the state of the atmosphere with the help of satellites and ground bases. It is understood that in the measurement process, a dust concentration indicator called aerosol optical depth-AOD is considered. In the western United States, it has reached a high value.
“We will neither notice nor feel the dust all over Europe. The fact that they reach our continent has not changed. However, their impact on the quality of the air we breathe (if it will) will be insignificant,” Krzysztof Skotak, an expert at the US National Environmental Protection Institute, said in an interview with PAP.
According to Skotak, dust may slightly increase the so-called pollution background. This means that if the pollution is 5 micrograms per cubic meter in any area on the earth, then due to the fires in the United States, the pollution may be 5.2 micrograms. It can ensure that these are not anxiety-causing values.
On a global scale, the fires in the United States are mainly due to large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate death. In California, its production is 21.7 million tons, in Oregon it is 7.3, and Washington is 1.4. In contrast, Poland emits more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Skotak said: “These values are very large and will seriously affect the Earth’s climate balance and deepen the existing climate trends.”
The dust emitted in the fire also contributes to the greenhouse effect. These dusts are scattered all over Europe, the height is very high, even dozens of kilometers higher than the earth. As Skotak explained, the analysis of their content in the atmosphere involves measuring the entire thickness of the atmosphere. The expert explained: “If there is more dust in the atmosphere, the instruments installed on the satellite will detect less solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth.”
“Dust in the atmosphere absorbs and scatters solar radiation. Therefore, through the energy absorbed by the radiation, it raises the temperature of the air and raises the temperature. This process may take a long time because the dust will float in the atmosphere more than One year.
The dust will settle eventually. According to Skotak, part of it may reach the polar regions, which means certain consequences. He pointed out: “Ice is covered with a thin layer of dust, it will accumulate faster and return to the solar energy in the form of heat, so it melts faster.” Scientists estimate that it will lose 13% every ten years. Sea ice in the northern hemisphere. They believe that the shrinking of the northern hemisphere leads to further climate change and the occurrence of extreme weather phenomena on the earth.
Skotak reminded that the fire in Australia also caused a large amount of carbon dioxide and dust emissions this year. After years of drought, from September 2019 to March 2020, Australia fought one of the largest bushfires in history. “Therefore, it turns out that we are dealing with fires in both hemispheres this year. Both will have a major impact on the strengthening of the greenhouse effect. He emphasized that they will greatly aggravate the deterioration of climate indicators.
According to experts, for Europe, including Poland, the possibility of large-scale uncontrolled forest fires is increasing. For example, this year, several thousand hectares of Bibresa National Park was burned down. Skotak believes that this may be a harbinger of similar problems in the next few years, especially in large areas of Poland, especially in the summer, where drought and dry forest litter over the years have made it easier to catch fire. He concluded: “Therefore, the forest fires in the United States can warn us.”
PAP-Polish Science, Szymon Zdzierałowski