The fires that have been plaguing Russia for months are causing smoke to drift across the Pacific Ocean towards North America. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on August 8, 2012 at 21:50 UTC.
In this image a broad band of gray smoke (center) curls across the North Pacific Ocean between two banks of clouds. In some areas, particularly in the east off of British Colombia, Canada, smoke mixes with the clouds.
According to various reports, the intense heat from the Russian fires has driven smoke high into the atmosphere – as high as 12 miles. At these high altitudes, winds carry the smoke across the North Pacific Ocean and to the shores of Canada and the northern West Coast of the United States. One obvious effect, visible to residents of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, is intensely colored, exceptionally beautiful. The particulates, however, can also create poor air quality and health hazards.
The fire season in Russia has been intense this year, driven by very dry and hot weather through the spring and summer, which followed a dry and warm winter. Fires continue to burn across Siberia and the Russian Far East.