Smoke from North America wildfires reaches Europe

The smoke was seen in images taken from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service

Eleanor Sly
Sunday 22 August 2021 16:35 BST
Timelapse footage captures Dixie Fire engulfing northern California forest

Smoke from wildfires burning in North America have travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and made their way as far as Spain and Portugal.

Images taken from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, found large quantities of smoke moving across the Atlantic, towards the Iberian peninsular, bringing with it high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO).

Satellite imaging has indicated that a cloud of polluting wildfire emissions has made its way 8,000km (nearly 5,000 miles) through the atmosphere from California to Europe, even reaching parts of France, Belgium and the UK.

Wildfires have been raging across the US with over 20,000 firefighters battling to put out at least 100 large wildfires in the west of the country.

The largest of these is the historic Dixie fire in California, which is the largest the state has ever seen, has been burning since mid-July and continues to affect large swathes of land there.

The fires are thought to have been made worse due to hot, dry weather and heatwaves, a result of climate change, which have in turn made the vegetation more flammable and the flames harder to contain.

Ongoing damage surveys have estimated that the Dixie fire has caused over 1,100 buildings to be destroyed, this has included 630 homes.

It’s not just America which has been affected by wildfires, swathes of the Mediterranean including Greece, Turkey, Spain and most recently southern France have experienced unusually large fires this summer, as have Canada and parts of Siberia.

Smoke produced by wildfires can be damaging if inhaled, with research indicating that it can worsen Covid case numbers in areas where there are particularly high levels.

It is thought that this is due to emitted pollutants being able to spread infection, together with lung damage caused by exposure to them.

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