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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Smoke from Space

Smoke from Space


San Francisco Bay Area smoke from Fires, 10-12-2017 (credit: JPL)


US national science agencies including NASA, NOAA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at CalTech manage and operate a suite of remote sensing satellites that observed wildfires raging in California. The environmental monitors gathered imagery using visible, infrared, and UV light signatures. Each sensor allows different sensitivities to determine characteristics of storms, clouds, ocean currents, winds, wildfires, and other environmental conditions. The orbiting satellites followed the growth, expansion, and extent of what is considered some the worst fires in California's history.

NASA used the photography to created an animation showing the sequences of smoke covering the San Francisco Bay Area. During the fires, air quality reached particulate pollution levels (PM-2.5) more typically associated with Beijing, China and which are considered severely unhealthy for people.


Closer to the ground, footage gathered by a Washington Post drone viewed neighborhoods in the town of Santa Rosa entirely burned to the ground by fires ignited by sparks carried by high winds from nearby hillsides. California's 'fire season' used to occur during the Fall months but Cal-Fire now sees it as a year-round period. This has been expanded by the State's aridity and drought-amplified by climate change.

Using a more 'global' perspective, NOAA estimated the cost of the State's disasters to be historic. The agency calculated billion dollar costs associated to extreme weather and climate related events. This determination was made well before the floods, hurricanes, and fires occurred.

Extreme weather and storms once predicted for mid-21st Century are already now happening.


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