We know that pollution travels the globe -- what emissions one country emits affects other countries. But exactly how those emissions travel is of interest to researchers. Satellite imagery showing smoke from a fire in Siberia could help with one piece of that puzzle.
According to a press release, "Fires burning in Siberia recently sent smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the U.S. and Canada. Images of data taken by the nation's newest Earth-observing satellite tracked aerosols from the fires taking six days to reach America's shores...The Voice of Russia reported that 11,000 hectares (about 42.4 square miles) of forests in Siberia were on fire in May and that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations says roughly 80 percent of these fires are intentionally set to clear land for farming."
Smoke isn't the only thing tracked by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite, which has an Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) to track aerosols. But it is a clear example of how pollution from one area affects another and in quite a short amount of time. Even farming practices in Siberia have a quick and direct impact on locations across the Pacific.
Physicist Colin Seftor created images from the satellite data that shows the plume of smoke being carried out over the Pacific and into Alaska. He also explains how tracking aerosols is important to understanding climate change. He states, "One of the biggest uncertainties we've had in terms of understanding our climate has to do with aerosols and what exactly aerosols do to the climate."
Here is a video in which he elaborates on the data: