Saturday, August 22, 2020

California Wildfires & Air Pollution

In the last few days Northern California has been experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world. Smoke from the California wildfires has led to very unhealthy air quality in most of Northern California.

Clarity Movement, an environmental startup who specialize in air pollution, have released an interactive map which shows information on both the location of wildfires in California and on the latest air pollution data. Open Map uses data from NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) to show the latest information on active wildfires. Air quality is shown using data from AirNow (which monitors data from local air quality agencies across the country).

If you click on one of the colored air quality markers on the map you can see where the air quality monitor is located, the time when the air quality was last monitored and a graph of its readings over the last week and month. Open Map also includes a layer which allows you to view the number of Covid-19 cases (as reported by Johns Hopkins) across California.

Of course all that unhealthy air quality is the result of the wildfire smoke. You can see where smoke is likely to be a problem on NOAA's HRRR-Smoke Interactive Map Visualization. NOAA's map identifies locations with intense fires and then forecasts how smoke is likely to disperse based on the latest weather forecasts. The purple and red areas on the map are where smoke is likely to be the most concentrated.

The smoke forecast map is experimental. It is prone to errors from cloud cover preventing satellite detection of wildfires and to errors in weather forecasts.

Also See

The LA Times' California Wildfires Map
The University of California's Fire Activity interactive map
The ALERTWildfire interactive map (wildfire detection from live cameras)

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