Take a deep breath. Even when the air looks clear, it is almost certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets.
These ubiquitous patches of matter are called aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts and mountains forests, ice and every ecosystem in between.
If you've ever seen smoke blowing from a forest fire, ashes from a volcano or dust in the wind, you've seen aerosols.
Satellites such as NASA's Earth Observation Satellite, Terra, Aqua, Aura, and Suomi NPP also "see" it, though offering a completely different perspective than hundreds of miles above the Earth's surface. A version of a NASA model called the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP) provides a similarly expansive view of the mish-mash of particles dancing and swirling through the atmosphere.
The visualization above highlights the GEOS FP model output for aerosols on August 23, 201
On this day, vast swathes of smoke swept across North America and Africa, three distinct tropical cyclones in the Pacific and large clouds of dust blew over deserts in Africa and Asia. The storms are visible in huge swirls of sea salt aerosol (blue) that blows up as part of the sea spray.
Black carbon particles (red) are particles emitted by fires; Vehicle and factory emissions are another common source. Particles classified as dust are shown in purple.
The visualization contains a layer of nightlight data collected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) day-night band in Suomi NPP Cities
The image below is from NASA Worldview, with the red dots overlaid on the image featuring those areas that actively recognize burning fires by using thermal tape.
Africa seems to have the most concentrated fires. This could be due to the fact that they are most likely agricultural fires. The location, the widespread nature and the number of fires indicate that these fires were deliberately geared to the management of land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to rid the soil of unwanted plants. While fire helps to improve crops and grasses for pastures, the fires also generate smoke that degrades the air quality.
Elsewhere, the fires, as in North America, are mostly forest fires. In South America there were many forest fires in Chile this year.
A Montana State University study found that "in addition to low humidity, strong wind and extreme temperatures, some of the same factors contribute to fires in the US" Central Chile is experiencing a mega-drought and large parts of its diverse native forests have been contaminated In Brazil, however, the fires, both forest fires and man-made fires, are crop fields of detritus from the last growing season, fires are also commonly used during the dry period of Brazil to devastate and deforestate land [Citation needed]
The problem with these fires is that they quickly get out of control due to climate issues: hot, dry conditions coupled with wind propulsion are firing far from their original planned incineration area the Global Fire Watch Website there were between August 15 and August 22, 30 964 fire starters.
In Australia you can also find bushfires in remote areas. Higher, drier summers in Australia will mean longer fire seasons – and sprawl into the bush will put more people at risk when these fires erupt. For large areas in the north and west, the bushfire season was brought forward for a full two months to August – until the winter, which officially began on June 1st.
According to the Australian Weather Bureau (Bom), January to July 2018 was the warmest in NSW since 1910. As the climate continues to change and areas become hotter and drier, more and more extreme bushfires are erupting across the Australian continent ,