According to scientists, in the last 10 years, its concentration in the air of California and in other western regions of the United States began to increase noticeably in August and in other summer and spring months.
Scientists have found that the increase in forest fires in California and other western regions of the United States has led to a sharp increase in the concentration of carbon monoxide and other dangerous compounds in the air during the summer in all regions of North America. This was announced on Tuesday by the press service of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
“The volume of smoke from forest fires has grown so much that they have begun to affect seasonal fluctuations in air quality throughout North America. As a result, in August there was a characteristic spike in the concentration of toxins in the air, which did not exist in the past,” said NCAR researcher Rebecca Buchholz, whose words are quoted by the press service of the center.
One of the most dangerous consequences of global warming is that the frequency and scale of forest fires have increased markedly in recent years. In particular, last year alone, wildfires in California affected over 2.6 million hectares of forest, which is about 6.1% of the total area of the state. The total level of economic damage exceeded $12 billion, and several dozen residents of the state died as a result of the fires.
Buchholz and her colleagues studied for the first time how the sharp increase in forest fires in the western regions of the United States, which occurred in the last 10 years, affected air quality. To do this, scientists tracked with the help of NASA satellites how the concentration of carbon monoxide, one of the main products of mass gorenje forests, changed in the air over the western states of the United States, as well as over other regions of the continent.
Consequences of forest fires
In general, as the researchers note, the concentration of carbon monoxide in the world has been gradually falling over the past two decades, decreasing by about 0.5% every year. In contrast, in the last 10 years, its concentration in the air of California and in other western regions of the United States began to increase noticeably in August and in other summer and spring months, which account for the maximum of forest fires.
Similar, but less significant spikes were recorded by researchers in different cities and regions on the opposite side of the United States, as well as in the southern provinces of Canada. Similarly, the proportion of potentially toxic aerosols in the air throughout North America has changed. It increased sharply in June-September, during the peak of forest fires.
Such trends, as scientists note, are absent in the data that were collected by the environmental agencies of the United States in the first decade of the XXI century and in previous historical epochs. According to Buchholz and her colleagues, this suggests that forest fires in the western United States have begun to significantly affect the ecology and air quality of the entire continent as a whole.
As scientists suggest, this problem may become even more acute in the future, as the frequency of forest fires will continue to grow rapidly in the coming decades as a result of a decrease in precipitation and a rapid increase in summer and spring temperatures in the western United States. This suggests the need to develop new measures as soon as possible to combat this form of natural disasters, the researchers concluded.