Monday, January 9, 2017

Drought Linked to Wildfires and Air Quality

Simulation of summertime haze in Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness. Photo:University of Utah/EPA/NPS

From United Press International:
Scientists have identified a link between droughts in the West and air quality in the Rocky Mountains. Researchers suggest prolonged droughts are encouraging haze in the mountains.
In a new paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists at the University of Utah argue wildfires at least partially explain the link between drought and haze.
Haze is the accumulation of dust, soot, ash and other particulates trapped in the atmosphere. Depending on the types of particles, haze can have both warming and cooling effects.
Previous studies have suggested haze levels are decreasing across the United States. But the study identified a few anomalies, small pockets of the alpine West where peak summertime haze levels continue to rise.
Atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar confirmed the findings using instruments designed to measure aerosol optical depth, a metric for the amount of aerosols between the sensor and the sun. 
Read more here

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