The Amazon Rainforest burns thanks to hundreds of forest fires caused by humans. Now NASA has discovered a gigantic cloud of harmful carbon monoxide (CO) rising from the flame into the atmosphere.
In terrifying new images on the NASA website, you can see how the cloud develops between August 8 and 22. The images are from a satellite-based instrument called the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), detects the infrared radiation in the earth's atmosphere.
The cloud first appears as a greenish spot over Brazil before rapidly spreading across the east and west coasts of South America, gradually dimming from green to yellow to red. This color shift means an increase in CO concentration in the atmosphere from about 1
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"A Pollutant that can cover great distances, carbon monoxide may be about one Remain in the atmosphere for a month, "wrote NASA in a press release . "At the altitude [about 18,000 feet, or 5,500 meters above the forest] mapped in these images, the gas has little impact on the air we breathe, but strong winds can drag it down where it can significantly affect air quality."
CO is odorless, colorless and tasteless, making it a particularly dangerous pollutant. According to the Mayo Clinic after excessive exposure to CO fumes, your body may replace CO in your red blood cells, which prevents oxygen from entering your bloodstream, causing brain damage and even death. Volcanoes and bushfire regularly burp traces of CO into the atmosphere. However, human activities, mainly in the form of car exhaust and emissions from industrial processes, contribute to a huge increase in CO concentration in cities.
The recently discovered cloud can float too high to pose a serious risk to the ground, it is not the only danger in the air from the ongoing forest fires. Last week, smoke from the fires traveled halfway through Brazil to cover São Paulo in a midnight black haze in the middle of the afternoon.
Most Amazon fires were probably purposely set to deface parts of São Paulo. Live Science previously reported that it is the rain forest for industrial purposes. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who rejects mainstream climate science, has promised to open the Amazon to industry.
Indeed, deforestation in the Amazon region increased by 278% in July 2019 compared to July 2018, according to satellite data of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) of the Brazilian government. Bolsonaro denied the results of the satellite and promptly dismissed after the publication of the data the INPE Director-General Ricardo Galvão.
Originally published on Live Science .