How climate change is making Minnesota skies hazy
Support for climate cast comes from Bank of America as one of the largest global financial institutions Bank of America is in a unique position to help society transition to a low-carbon economy, Bank of America, NA, member FDIC. Daniel, let's start with the current smoke event over Minnesota, where is it coming from? This is already dating from the large fires in or central Albert Canada. And that has been going on literally for Minnesota's since last Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day. And so we've continued to had wave after wave or plume after plume of smoke rolling in from the northwest over Minnesota. And how widespread is this bloom? It's not just Minnesota's covering a larger area right? Yeah. This plume has crossed the upper mid west into the Great Lakes, all the way into the southern United States last week. And then it's recycled with more smoke coming in low pressure systems, come across the country to mix it up. And then you continue to have a, a northwest flow in the upper levels the atmosphere bringing it back to Minnesota, and the upper midwest eventually to the Great Lakes. I know it's been unusually warm in parts of northwest Canada, in the Rockies parts of Alaska this spring. Is this something that may be a persistent feature for us this summer? It looks like it's going to be that way. We started looking at the pattern early winter to prepare for what we're going to expect here Minnesota this spring and summer and it's come to fruition that below level precipitation, amounts no pack as low warm temperatures in the fires have begun a bit early as far as the intensity when we expect him to continue on much of the summer, so we'll be dealing with the smoke and potentially or equality issues here through probably August or September. So I think I know the answer to this. But a lot of people are asking, why is are normally blue sky tinted white when we have the smoke, loft a lot of the smoke lobsters refracting the sunlight, so you're not getting the full energy of the visible spectrum to come through? So you're getting that bending and refraction of light sometimes by sunset you see the orange and the reds, the only long. Ways are getting through as the lot of scattering of sunlight by this smoke. At different levels of the atmosphere over us Daniel on climate cast. We try to put these events in a climate and climate change perspective. I know climate central did a study that shows the annual average wildfire season in the western US, one hundred five days, longer burned six time as many acres and has three times as many large fires over a thousand acres than it did in the nineteen seventies, we know as meteorologists that Minnesota's usually down wind from the Rockies. I've lived here, most of my life, and I observed, what seems like we're having many more of these smokey sky days than we did a few decades ago. But I'm wondering is there any way to measure that are there any metrics on how many days of smoke we're getting during the summer. Well, we're doing at minnaso- push choice agency, as we're tracking the days that we do have air quality gets into the yellow the Mata category, we will note that if they're smoky skies usually to buy visual by satellite. And so we've been keeping track of that for last couple. Of years, and the numbers are starting to be pretty telling of how many days we do have smoke in the air and not all days. We have bad air quality because it stayed aloft away from the breathing level to ground, but it's a growing number. We've noticed that quite a bit in the last two years. And how does MPC a monitor air quality across Minnesota? We have a network of air quality monitors mainly for ozone and fine particles. And those are the two things that we've forecast and alert for, and we monitors eighteen monitor locations that we track across the state and forecast for also, we'll issue alerts statewide, and we're also looking at some smaller lower price networks that are being installed to better detect spoke because we're a little bit blind in the northwest part of the state and we're trying to expand that area. But we also look at what's going on in Canada and the monitor's we look at satellite with oke radar. We look at different forecast models. A whole lot of data is becoming available. More and more in the last couple of years. Let's talk about the meteorology of smoke forecasting, when we have this smoke aloft. What happens Feerick patterns? Are you watching for to see if it can mix down to ground level and impact our air quality here? First of all, we looked at the all levels from the surface to fifteen twenty thousand feet and what direction that flows from and with its northwest flow, which is, you know, for all the canyon wildfires coming this way, the smoke this way, we start to look at how deep that mixing level is, how from the surface up to the lower part of the atmosphere. Is that gonna mix the smoke and disperse it or we're going to have sinking air at a couple of thousand feet above the surface to drive that smoke to the ground and a lot of times, we'll have a rain event or a cold front, and there's smoke didn't get cleared out. The sinking motion behind that frontal system will actually bring it to the surface, and that's really what drove the highest events that we've had in the last three years behind a cold frontal system with very high numbers indeed smoke. Fortunately, it does move quickly and doesn't get trapped because we don't have a lot of big valleys and stuff like there is out west. So what are you looking for the next week or so here? As you see the source regions still putting out smoke upstream. What does it look like for Minnesota air quality wise? Emmy we continue to be in that kind of the higher green into the lower middle yellow category where we've been writing for the past week. We've had a few spikes upward this not only fine particle, but believe it or not, it is the VOC's volatile organic compounds and the nitric oxide pollution gases in the wildfire smoke will actually help ozone formation. So we've had days where we've had ozone shoot up pretty high into the yellow category. And actually touched the orange for an hour or two and come back down. So we're actually dealing with two pollutant pro issues, the ozone and fine particles for forecasting and alerting process. What's the bigger picture message that you'd like Minnesotans to know about when it comes to monitoring air quality here in Minnesota. I think just the awareness, and it really has become apparent last couple years, talking with many people on the outreach that people are worthy welfare smoke, and how to fix because you can see it. You can smell it. And so that's going to continue. You this year tracking air-quality via the Minnesota pollution control agency website. You can download Minnesota air app, you can sign up for Enviro flash Email alerts. So there's a variety of ways to get it. Whether information there's an air quality alert, we've reached out to the media to the national weather service and variety of social media as a way to continue to track and follow the smoke on those days where we're going to have outdoor events because there's some days that smoke will reach the surface and cause quite a bit of issue for those who are susceptible to air quality problems. Daniel Dick's meteorologists with the Minnesota pollution control agency. Thanks for your work and for your perspective today. Thank you, Paul, great to be here.