Each year we hear of the raging wildfires spreading in the Midwest and on the West Coast. For the habitually dry climate seen in those regions, wildfires occur seasonally due to natural interference. However, we are now seeing-more and more- the devastating impacts and elongating effects humans are begetting on these seasonal fires. Furthermore, these multitudes of disasters are not just affecting the Western United States but also regions 3,000 miles away.
As of July 30th, 2021 fire weather and conditions continue to antagonize and perpetually encroach on western states. 83 immense fires have burned 1,741,281 acres of 13 different states. Upper-level ridging will amplify throughout the west and even into Canada. This will subsequently increase temperature whilst vastly decreasing regional humidity levels. This will further instigate cloud coverage and unsatisfactory weather conditions for the rest of the country.
Acid rain and chemical smog are two subsequent realities caused by these unprecedented fires. As stated, these devastations are not just affecting the west, but are encroaching on the rest of the nation. Smoke and poor air quality is reaching its arms across the United States and Canada causing harmful implications to follow. The largest burning site, Bootleg Fire in Oregon, has now burned more than 600 square miles. The smoke from this and many others are suffocating North Eastern cities 3000 miles away. On Tuesday morning, cities such as Philadelphia and New York woke up to an colossally elevated Air Quality Index of 154. Meteorologists had not seen levels of such extremity since June of 2006. This smog is typically dispersed into the upper atmosphere when such seasonal anomalies occur; however, more recently, areas of high pressures are pushing the smog, and condensing it into the troposphere.
Although this secretion of chemicals is bad enough, the particles within the smog are even more of a concern. Particulate matter- especially that does not exceed 2.5 pm- is more imperative to avoid. However, when present, those who breathe it in have a higher chance of attracting asthma and other respiratory issues.
The smoke from these fires have reached such an extreme level that the smog is clearly visible from space, 227 nautical miles above the ground. The perpetuation of these burns have even incited the creation of a weather system on dedicated to these disasters in order to better educate residents and track their progression. However, the climate crisis has continued to make these annual conditions last abnormally long durations and increased the destruction they cause. The record-breaking droughts and high temperatures are further indications and even warnings of the dangers following this “new normal.” Presently, 90% of Oregon is suffering from severe dry spouts and cannot see an end in sight. Not only has this devastated ecosystems and degraded environmental integrity as a whole, but the ceaseless nature of these catastrophes make it even more atrocious.
Jones, Dustin, and Kat Lonsdorf. “Montana Wildfire Fight Draws Help from Other States.” NPR, NPR, 25 July 2021, http://www.npr.org/2021/07/24/1020207430/montana-wildfire-fight-draws-help-from-other-states-as-much-of-the-west-burns.
Montana Public Radio | By Nick Mott. “The Climate Change Link to More and Bigger Wildfires.” Iowa Public Radio, 27 July 2021, http://www.iowapublicradio.org/news-from-npr/2021-07-27/the-climate-change-link-to-more-and-bigger-wildfires.
“National Fire News.” National Fire News | National Interagency Fire Center, http://www.nifc.gov/fire-information/nfn.
Vera, Amir, and Keith Allen. “80 Large Fires Have Consumed More than 1 Million ACRES across Western Parts of the US.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 July 2021, http://www.cnn.com/2021/07/18/us/western-us-wildfires-heatwave-sunday/index.html.