MOPITT's 'Multispectral' View of Recent Russian Fires

Russian firefighter

During the summer of 2010, large areas of central Russia were devastated by extensive wildfires burning through forests and dry peat bogs. In addition to the threat from the actual fires, the smoke and pollutants generated by the fires created an air quality crisis for millions of Russians, including residents of Moscow. Figure 1 below shows imagery from the MODIS satellite instrument for Aug. 8; a vast smoke plume is clearly evident.

Cirrus distribution mapped with HIRDLS

Frequency of occurrence (%) of cirrus clouds at 121 hPa.

The vertical depths of cirrus in the upper troposphere vary from less to a kilometer to many kilometers. There is interest in knowing these depths in order to understand how cirrus contributes to the heating and cooling rates in the upper troposphere – a positive solar plus infrared heating rate will impart a positive enhancement to the vertical motion field. Measurements of cirrus by the HIRDLS experiment add to our knowledge base, since the HIRDLS experiment is sensitive to the presence of small amounts of cirrus along limb-views in the upper troposphere.

Satellite Observations of Cirrus

Cirrus frequency of occurrence over the western Pacific.

Satellite observations have revealed that cirrus is very prevalent near the tropopause throughout most of the tropics. Cirrus is formed by several processes: a) in-situ rising and freezing of a humid layer, b) blow-off by deep convection, and c) initiation of cirrus formation by the cold temperature perturbations of dynamical waves. The cirrus is of interest since the cirrus restricts the amount of water vapor that is transported from the upper troposphere into the lower stratosphere.

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ACOM | Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling