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Smoke from US fires covers 1.5 million km2 of the Pacific

A change in wind direction has blown westward the immense cloud of smoke produced by the unprecedented fires that have ravaged the states of California and Oregon

NOAA / NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured images showing the winds changing direction on September 6, 2020 as suffocating clouds of brown smoke began to billow and cascade into the Pacific Ocean.

By September 10, the smoke cloud had traveled more than 2,000 kilometers. The area covered in smoke amounts to 1,550,000 square kilometers, three times Spain. That estimate has been calculated using the measurement tool within the NASA Worldview application.

About 1.25 million hectares have been burned this year in California alone, representing an increase of a total of one million more in the period to Wednesday, September 9. Additionally, 325,000 hectares have been lost in Oregon and 200,000 in Washington state. Winds blowing through the west have been fueling the fires and helping them spread rapidly, as evidenced by the growth of more than two million hectares in less than two days. This year there have been 12 wildfire related deaths.

Records have been broken during this fire season and experts continue to blame drought, excessive heat and high winds for this tragedy. Because the climate continues to change, scientists also believe that these types of fire events will not only continue but will get worse.

Quoted by NASA, National Interagency Fire Center predictive meteorologist Nick Nausler tweeted: “Several fires traveled more than 35 kilometers in 24 hours in recent days in California, Oregon and Washington. This speed may not be so rare in Grassland fires. However, most of these fires are producing large wood discharges and burning thousands of hectares and in some cases more than 10,000 hectares in one day. The sheer amount of fire in the landscape is surreal. “

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