Satellite measures of the impact of large boreal forest fires on ozone
Zonal average aerosol extinction ratio measured by the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) satellite instrument for several periods from mid-August 2017 to mid-January 2018. The effects of the large boreal forest fires are seen in the Northern Hemisphere over altitudes ~15-25 km in September and following months. The persistent maximum in the tropics over ~25-30 km is the background stratospheric aerosol layer. Credit: Bourassa et al. [2019], Figure 1
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Intense forest fires in western North America during August 2017 caused smoke plumes that reached deep into the stratosphere. While this phenomenon has been observed previously, Bourassa et al. [2019] report that this particular event caused increases in stratospheric aerosols at higher altitudes (up to 23 kilometers) with greater magnitude than observed over the past 40 years. The effects covered most of the Northern Hemisphere and persisted for more than 5 months, rivaling the stratospheric influence of recent moderate volcanic eruptions. Ongoing research is aimed at understanding the chemical and radiative impacts of such far-reaching forest fire events.

Citation: Bourassa, A. E., Rieger, L. A., Zawada, D. J., Khaykin, S., Thomason, L. W., & Degenstein, D. A. [2019]. Satellite limb observations of unprecedented forest fire aerosol in the stratosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 124, 9510– 9519.

—William J. Randel, Editor, JGR: Atmospheres

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