Asian Haze is Back

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Looking towards the Cascades this morning, much of the detail is obscured and Mt. Rainier is barely visible from Seattle (see image).

And viewing the number of particles in the air from the local air quality network shows an increase in obscuration (this data is from a device called a nephelometer and show the number of small particles).   I have plotted the results from a number of local cities.  They are all heading up.

Why do I think this is from Asia?  One reason is the lastest results of the European Center for Medium Range Forecasting biomass smoke trajectory model, which indiates that some of it is getting across the Pacific (see graphic).

And where is the air over us coming from?   We can compute air trajectories in time to find out!  Here is the answer: from lower levels over Asia, where many fires are still burning (see graphic).  We will be living with this Asian smoke for most of the summer.

It is sobering to contemplate the interconnectivity of the natural environment.  Smoke from Asia (and other pollutants like ozone) can make it across the vast Pacific and obscure our mountains and degrade our air quality.  A tsunami in Japan results in debris reaching our coast.   We ship coal to China and the CO2 from burning it reaches our shores in days.

PS:  The many weather action during the next few days should be convection (thunderstorms) over the Cascades.   Watch as the cumulus develop over the morning hours and blossoms during the afternoon.  And be prepared for a shower if hiking.

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