SPoRT product detects thick smoke over United States from Canadian fires

Intense fires in Canada began releasing large amounts of smoke into the atmosphere on June 6th.  Since the initial fires, winds have transported the smoke towards the Upper Midwest.  The smoke advancing over the Upper Midwest is evident on the VIIRS True Color image from June 8th (shown below).

VIIRS True Color image on June 8, 2015 at 1826 UTC showing smoke over Upper Midwest

VIIRS True Color image on June 8, 2015 at 1826 UTC showing smoke over Upper Midwest

Last year, NASA SPoRT developed a near-real time aerosol optical depth (AOD) product that combines observations from polar-orbiting (S-NPP VIIRS and MODIS Aqua and Terra) and geostationary (GOES-15 and MTSAT-2) satellites in an effort to generate a product capable of providing a more complete spatial distribution of AOD across the Pacific Ocean.  Although this SPoRT AOD product was originally developed to help support the NOAA-led CalWater 2 field campaign (January-March 2015) with monitoring and tracking long-range transported aerosols across the Pacific Ocean, it can also detect aerosols over the United States.  AOD products using observations from only a single satellite sensor often provide a very incomplete picture of AOD since high reflectance from clouds generally mask the aerosol signal.  The use of multiple satellite sensors in the SPoRT AOD product helps increase the likelihood of observing a cloud-free region where aerosols are present.  Our product has been successfully monitoring and tracking the smoke from the Canadian fires since the initial outbreak on June 6th.  A snapshot of the AOD product on June 8th is shown below which is zoomed-in to highlight the very high AOD (red colors indicate AOD >1.0) associated with the smoke plume identified in the VIIRS True Color image.  Moderate values of AOD (~0.5) are shown in green while low values (<0.2) are shown in blue and magenta.

NASA SPoRT AOD product on June 8, 2015 where red colors indicate AOD > 1

NASA SPoRT AOD product on June 8, 2015 where red colors indicate AOD > 1

The smoke plume has propagated further eastward today to over the Mid-Atlantic region, but is lofted in the atmosphere and has not impacted visibility at the surface.

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