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The Smoke Covering the U.S. West Coast Can Be Seen From 1 Million Miles Away

The smoke floating around from the wildfires spreading across the Western United States is a wrenching view, even from millions of miles away.​ NASA‘s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) snapped a dramatic capture of the smoke last week, showing a massive gray-brown smudge wafting over the Pacific Ocean just near the West Coast.

EPIC is attached to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), which rotated the Sun in a gravitationally stable place 930,000 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

The smoke is very bad over the firm ground as well, covering much of California, Oregon, and Washington state. The extent of the air pollution, which has triggered dangerous air quality and eerie orange skies across the West Coast, is depicted in a photo captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Millions of Acres Burned

Such imagery aids in determining the scale and fury of the current fires, which have claimed at least 15 human lives to date and forced more than 40,000 people in Oregon to leave their homes behind, The New York Times reports.

The blazes are also burning massive tracts of land. For instance, 330,000 acres (133,500 hectares) were charred in Washington last week alone, Governor Jay Inslee tweeted on Tuesday, September 9th.

Smoke from wildfires blankets much of the West Coast in this photo captured by the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite. [Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory]
Wildfires have also burned over 3.1 million acres (1.25 million hectares) in California since the year began, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE)as it reported in an update on Friday, September 11th. 

“This year’s acres burned is 26 times higher than the acres burned in 2019 for the same time period, and the combined amount of acres burned is larger than the state of Connecticut,” CALFIRE officials wrote.

The enraged fires are also fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions across the West. The zone is getting hotter and drier because of the man-made weather modifications, so it is no surprise that wildfires have been getting more extreme and more devastating in the last period, experts say.


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