Color Satellite Shows CA Wildfire Smoke Spreading Over Pacific

August 4th, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The wildfires north of San Francisco are far from contained today, with over 90 sq. miles torched, 9,000 firefighters involved battling the blazes, and 13,000 people ordered evacuated from their homes.

Yesterday afternoon this NASA satellite color image showed the locations of satellite-observed hotspots (red dots) and smoke spreading westward out over the Pacific Ocean (click for full-size):

NASA color imagery from the Aqua satellite showing widespread wildfires over Northern California (remapped into Google Earth).

NASA color imagery from the Aqua satellite showing widespread wildfires over Northern California (remapped into Google Earth).

8 Responses to “Color Satellite Shows CA Wildfire Smoke Spreading Over Pacific”

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  1. mpainter says:

    9,000 firefighters cannot contain the conflagration! In the past, the fire would have burned until the rain put it out- when it finally rained. Imagine the aerosols generated by such fires in the past.

    • jerry l krause says:

      Hi Roy and mpainter,

      Along the same line of thought as mpainter’s, on Oregon’s High Desert juniper trees are populating hill sides where there were very few junipers in previous history. For some time I had questioned why this has happened. Two possible reasons, in the Willamette Valley it has been reported that the Indians regularly started fires to keep shrubs and brush down to make hunting easier. But it seem unlikely that was needed on the much drier High Deserts. But in the spring grass does spout and then dry up very early as it has this year. The dry grass makes excellent tender for fires started by lightning strikes. Hence these ‘wildfires’ regularly burned upslope and where they died a natural death. But for most of the 20th Century we monitored the High Desert after such storms and rushed to extinguish any fires before they got ‘big’.

      Of course such fires are still along to naturally burn themselves out in Alaska according to what I read. So the good intentions of some humans can have negative (bad) consequences.

      Have a good day, Jerry

      • mpainter says:

        Same thing in central Texas. Millions of acres of juniper where once there was grassland. Juniper, of course, burns like a torch but there is no fire these days. Except once in a while, like the great fire of a few years back.

        • Lewis says:

          Fire is another natural occurrence. When man began putting them out, the dead understory, brush on the ground would continue to accumulate until the fire that occurred would be hot enough to kill the trees.

          In the southeast, the vast pine forests were open, with grassland etc underneath. Pines suffer fire very well and actually enjoy the fertilizer fire creates. The forest services in the area now use fire regularly to clean out the underbrush. A few years later, you’d never know.

        • jerry l krause says:

          Hi mpainter,

          Wonder how many environmentalists know that junipers create drought by sucking moisture from the soil that would have been otherwise available to the grass upon which livestock could graze and thereby eliminate much of the fire danger of grass. But on some Federal BLM land in Oregon and Nevada grazing is not permitted, a few years backs there was a large grass- sagebrush burn because of the accumulated dry biomass which is a good fuel.

          Have a good day, Jerry

          • mpainter says:

            Jerry, juniper species are hardy, long-lived trees that are extremely drought tolerant and the genus crowds out all other tree species. Fire controlled it in the past, but now, with no fire, it is out of control. Oklahoma has a big problem and has instituted a permanent agency to deal with the spread of it. Other states have similar problems.

  2. boris says:

    Of course one hates to criticize…but go out and observe what passes for firefighting these days in rangeland. Save the local volunteers there ain’t much going on between the BLM and Federal and State forest services. A TON of money is spent “positioning” contract crews and then not doing anything with them! While those crews and their bureaucratic bosses decide on a catchy name and drive around in $180,000 rigs. Anyone that’s been through one will tell you an awful lot of talking about it and not much work.

  3. RIch says:

    How much of a cooling effect does all of this smoke have?

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