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Celina Bao ’24 briefs the SAS community about the Canadian wildfires affecting the eastern US.
Hi all! As one of the only Canadians left in the SAS community, I feel a need to talk about the wildfires that are happening in many Canadian provinces, including the ones in Quebec that had significant impact in the US, and how it relates to climate change. As many of you who live around New York might have seen, the sky has been orange recently and is filled with smoke. This phenomenon is caused by the Canadian wildfires.
What caused it?
The wildfires were sparked by lightning that struck near Val-D’Or, a city in Western Quebec. Although wildfires are not an uncommon scene in Canada during summers, this one is particularly severe. Nearly 150 fires are still active in Quebec and among them, 92 are still not under control. The reason behind this exacerbation is a recurring theme — climate change. As the air got warmer and held less moisture, the trees were becoming drier, making them easier to be lit on fire. Additionally, the changing climate also contributed to the widespread of the fire, as earlier-than-usual snow melt and little precipitation made the ground dry and thus more flammable.
What’s the impact?
Burning hundreds of miles of land, the fires are also destroying peoples’ homes: more than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate from where they live. Another very visible impact of the wildfires was the orange and smoked sky. Bringing down air quality, it is dangerous in the way that it irritates peoples’ airways and can cause health problems. Now, a question you might have is: since Canada is the one burning, why is the US’s sky orange? This is because the smoke is being pushed to the eastern half of the US by a counterclockwise-spinning low-pressure system (basically air) over Northern New England and Nova Scotia.
When will the smoke go away?
For the smoke to leave the sky of New York City, it takes a change in weather. In other words, the low-pressure system has to go away. According to the weather forecast, the low-pressure system will possibly drift to the north and weaken beyond Friday afternoon, causing the smoke to disperse.
Nevertheless, this is only the start of the wildfire season. Many suspect that worse wildfires can come later in summer. In the future, as the climate keeps getting warmer, human beings might even need to learn to “live with fire” and adapt to more and more wildfires.
What to do when smoke is around?
If where you live is impacted by the smoke, it is important that one stays mostly indoors and wears a mask (ironically similar to Covid), preferably N95, outdoors.
If you are interested to learn more, you can just Google it: there are tons of resources online.
Have a great summer (and go Canada),
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