The sun sets behind Port Angeles City Pier Monday night, 9 July 2012. Smoke from wildfires in Siberia is producing spectacular sunsets. Keith Thorpe / Peninsula Daily News

11 July 2012, Canadian Press – Smoke lingering over much of British Columbia from Siberian wildfires has pushed ozone levels in parts of the province to never-before-seen numbers.

By Monday, ozone levels reached 84 parts per billion in the central Interior region, about three times the average for July.

B.C. Ministry of Environment air-quality meteorologist Eric Taylor said that on Sunday and Monday, levels were above 82 parts per billion, causing concerns because of potential health effects for people with respiratory problems, for example.

He said that in the past seven years, levels have only exceeded 82 parts per billion for a total of three hours.

"It appears that in this smoke there must have been a lot of other pollutants - natural pollutants - that come from forest fires, so much that it has generated ozone to a much higher extent than normal," Taylor said.

"I have never seen ozone levels at the ground in the central Interior as high as I've seen them in the last couple of days."

He said levels in the area had dropped by Tuesday and were sitting at about 62 parts per billion.

But, relief is literally on the horizon as a cold front has helped clear out the haze in the central Interior and normal air turbulence is expected to force out much of the remaining smoke, Taylor said. […]

The thick smoke from the Siberian fires is travelling south over the Pacific Ocean before making an upswing to approach B.C. from the southwest.

The infernos have consumed thousands of hectares in southern Siberia as hundreds of fire-fighters battle the flames.

Last month, eight firefighters were killed parachuting into the affected area after the wind shifted and carried them off course. […]

Smoke from Siberian fires raises ozone levels in B,C. to record levels

By Rob Ollikainen, Peninsula Daily News
10 July 2012

If the sunsets have looked especially colorful in recent days, the National Weather Service says it's probably because of smoke originating from wildfires in Siberia.

“You can really only see it in the morning and at sunset,” said Chris Burke, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“There are a lot of big fires in Siberia right now.” […]

University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass wrote about the smoke in a Saturday post to his blog,

Mass attached a satellite image of Washington taken Friday that shows the leading edge of the smoke over the North Olympic Peninsula.

Mass updated the post Sunday night, saying the trajectory of the smoke put it 16,400 feet over Port Angeles.

“Examining the flow aloft, it really appears unlikely to be coming from any of the western U.S. fires,” Mass wrote.

“The air over us can be traced back to Asia at low levels.”

Computer models show the smoke's course from east Asia to the Aleutian Islands to the eastern Pacific.

The smoke makes an abrupt left turn off the coast of Northern California and moves north to Western Washington.

“I believe many of you … particularly those near the coast and northwest Washington will be [able] to see the smoke, particularly at sunset, where the sun should look redder than normal,” Mass wrote. […]

The Voice of Russia reported that more than 42 square miles of forests in Siberia were on fire in May.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said roughly 80 percent of these fires are intentionally set to clear land for farming.

“This smoke event is one example that shows that what happens over one area of the earth can easily affect another area thousands of miles away, whether it's from Asia to North America or North America to Europe, and so on,” said Colin Seftor, an atmospheric physicist working for Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.

Smoke from Asian wildfires makes for cool sunsets



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