1B.5 Satellite Observations of the Northern California Summer 2008 Wildfires

Thursday, 12 November 2009: 2:40 PM
Jasper Lewis Jr., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Greenbelt, MD

Between June – August of 2008, northern California experienced a large number of wildfires dubbed the Northern California Lightning Series by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A severe thunderstorm, which produced over 6,000 lightning strikes, ignited 2,096 fires which burned nearly 1.2 million acres (4,856 km2). Extremely dry conditions caused by a drought exasperated the problem, resulting in one of the worst wildfire situations in state history. Several exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 within northern and central California were attributed to the wildfires. Such exceedances are a rarity during the summer for the region. Satellite measurements of aerosol optical depth from MODIS and GOES-West are compared to surface in-situ measurements of PM2.5 within affected areas. Lidar profiles from CALIPSO were used to show vertical aerosol distributions and transport of smoke plumes. The observed cases show the capability of satellite measurements for the forecasting and monitoring of similar pollution events.
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