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Satellite images of California fires show global smoke path – Los Angeles Times

Smoke from the West Coast’s ferocious firestorms continued to cause pollution problems in California and was expected to waft into Europe this week.

The historic fires have had air quality ramifications far and wide. The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended advisories for parts of the Southland for a 10th straight day. Onshore winds will probably begin moving smoke out of the South Coast Air Basin Wednesday afternoon. But conditions elsewhere remain grim.

Some areas around Bishop and Mammoth Lakes were listed as “beyond index,” meaning that “everyone should stay indoors and reduce activity levels,” according to air quality monitors. The air quality measurements reached 626, far beyond the 0-500 scale.

The inundation of smoke is severe enough to show up on satellite and is capturing the attention of scientists on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over 8,000 kilometers [about 5,000 miles] away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration,” Mark Parrington, a senior scientist with the Europe-based Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in an article the agency posted Wednesday.

According to CAMS forecasts, smoke from the fires chewing through parts of California and the Pacific Northwest “is starting to cross the Atlantic again and will reach northern Europe later this week, as it did at the end of last week.” West Coast-originating smoke has previously been reported as far away as the Netherlands and Hamburg, Germany.

With all that smoke comes a tremendous amount of pollution, something to which Californians weary of hazy conditions and reddened skies can attest.

Readings taken over the last week have shown high-altitude concentrations of carbon monoxide that are more than 10 times above normal, according to NASA, with plumes originating near fires before entering the jet stream and being carried east.

Smoke from the Bobcat and El Dorado fires burning in Southern California continues to blanket the region, prompting the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue its 10th straight day of advisories Wednesday.

Onshore winds were expected to begin moving smoke out of the South Coast Air Basin during the afternoon, the district said, but “modest smoke impacts” from Northern and Central California fires are likely to persist. Current air quality readings are lingering in the 150-200 range, which is considered unhealthful by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Downtown Portland, Ore., which has been subjected to particularly foul air quality because of nearby fires, was virtually deserted Tuesday afternoon.

Todd Piper, a valet at Embassy Suites by Hilton, said he stayed inside the hotel’s front door as much as possible to avoid the smoke.

“I feel like I’m more tired at the end of the day from breathing it,” he said.

Gone was the usual line outside Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut shop. That was fine with Brian Shackleford, 48, a visitor from Phoenix, who ducked in to buy one of its legendary bacon maple bars.

“I’m being cautious about going outside,” he said, “but I couldn’t pass this up.”

NASA is monitoring high-altitude carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations 10x higher than normal amounts as 28 major wildfires burn across California. Carbon monoxide is a pollutant that can persist in the atmosphere for about a month & travel great distances. https://t.co/hwnjwVY2LI pic.twitter.com/Pm0rswyR8O

— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) September 15, 2020

NASA has started flying aircraft over California’s new burn areas, both to identify damaged structures and map fire-stripped landscapes that could be at risk of future landslides or other debris flows.

More than 4,200 structures have been destroyed statewide since Aug. 15 — the first day of a historic lightning siege that sparked some of the largest wildfires the state had seen, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“We had a perfect storm of meteorological factors come together that encouraged extreme burning,” Vincent Ambrosia, associate program manager for wildfire research in NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Program, said in a statement. “That was layered on top of shifting climate patterns — a long-term drying and warming of both the air and vegetation — that is contributing to the growing trend we are seeing toward larger, higher-intensity fires in the U.S. West.”

The mammoth scale of California’s record firestorm speaks to that trend. So far this year, fires have scorched more than 3.3 million acres statewide — an area larger than the state of Connecticut.

Four of the six largest fires in recorded state history have ignited in the past month, according to Cal Fire.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that upkeep was a significant part of the equation — “we all recognize our responsibility, mutual responsibility, the federal government, the state government, private landowners, all of us doing more and doing better in terms of our vegetation management efforts, our forest management efforts … and that, of course, is being advanced in ways that we have not seen in the past.”

He reemphasized, though, that climate change had played a substantial role in setting the stage for California’s historic fire season.

“We need to reconcile the fact there are no Democratic thermometers and no Republican thermometers. There’s fact and there’s reality, as well as observed evidence,” he said during a news briefing. “It’s not a belief system. It’s an acknowledgment. The facts are the facts.”

That collection of colossal conflagrations includes the August Complex fire burning in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties — the biggest on record at more than 796,000 acres.

This year has also seen one of California’s most deadly fires: the North Complex fire near Oroville, whose death toll now stands at 15. Overall, 25 Californians have died in the recent firestorm.

The cost of fighting multiple large-scale fires across California neared $580 million as of Tuesday, already surpassing the money approved by the state in July for the entire fiscal year.

State officials this month set aside additional funds and can, if needed, tap into short-term cash reserves to cover the remaining costs.

“I just want to express our deepest condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and to the heroism of our first responders that have been out there doing their best to support evacuation efforts,” Newsom said.

Times staff writers Hayley Smith in Los Angeles, John Myers in Sacramento and Richard Read in Portland contributed to this report .

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launch Satellite

ULA launch of NRO satellite on hold after Delta 4 Heavy hot fire abort – SpaceNews

by

The hot fire abort of NROL-44 happened three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift off Aug. 29, 2020. Credit: ULA webcast

The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the Delta 4 Heavy was to lift off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral

WASHINGTON — A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office classified spy satellite remains on the ground after a mission abort Aug. 29 during the ignition sequence before the planned 3:28 a.m. Eastern liftoff.

The launch of NROL-44 was aborted three seconds before the rocket was to lift off from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The automatic abort was triggered by a hot fire after the Delta 4 Heavy’s three engines appeared to ignite but then shut off. ULA CEO Tory Bruno said on Twitter that the cause “appears to have been in the ground system.” He said the abort system “functioned as intended to protect the vehicle and payload.”

ULA said in a statement it is “reviewing all data and will determine the path forward.” Another launch attempt won’t happen for at least seven days.

This was the third launch attempt in as many days after two scrubs — one on Aug. 26 due to customer request and one on Aug. 27 resulting from a technical problem with the ground pneumatics control system.

The Aug. 29 launch originally had been scheduled at 2:04 a.m. but was delayed by a thermal anomaly due to a lower than expected temperature in one of the rocket’s compartments.


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About Satellite

A NASA Satellite From the 1960s Is About to Die – Futurism

August 28th 20

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Dan Robitzski

__Filed Under: Hard Science

The OGO

This weekend, a 56-year old NASA satellite is set to be retired in a glorious blaze of fire.

The Orbiting Geophysics Observatory 1 (OGO-1) satellite studied how the Sun affects the Earth’s magnetic field between 1964 and 1969, according to Space.com. Now, after roughly 50 years of peaceful retirement, the satellite will come back home — and incinerate as it re-enters the atmosphere.

Peace Out

Hearing that a 1,000-pound satellite is screaming back to Earth might give you pause, but NASA has stressed that OGO-1’s dramatic demise is all part of the plan.

“The spacecraft will break up in the atmosphere and poses no threat to our planet — or anyone on it — and this is a normal final operational occurrence for retired spacecraft,” reads a NASA press release.

Sole Survivor

OGO-1, Space.com reports, has been the last bastion of the OGO program for years now. All five of the other OGO satellites, all launched in the 1960s, have already been retired in a similar fashion.

Now, decades after it stopped being useful to NASA, it’s time for the original OGO to come home as well.

READ MORE: 56-year-old NASA satellite expected to fall to Earth this weekend [Space.com]

More on satellites: A Look Inside the Deep-Sea Graveyard for Dead Spacecraft

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Satellite survey

Satellite survey shows California’s sinking coastal hotspots – Phys.org

Satellite survey shows California's sinking coastal hotspots
Coastal elevation in California. Coastal zones, which are defined to be those with elevations less than 10 m, are shown in red. Segments of the coast with elevations higher than 10 m are colored by a yellow gradient. Credit: USGS NED.

A majority of the world population lives on low lying lands near the sea, some of which are predicted to submerge by the end of the 21st century due to rising sea levels.

The most relevant quantity for assessing the impacts of sea-level change on these communities is the relative sea-level rise—the elevation change between the Earth’s surface height and sea surface height. For an observer standing on the coastland, relative sea-level rise is the net change in the sea level, which also includes the rise and fall of the land beneath observer’s feet.

Now, using precise measurements from state-of-the-art satellite-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) that can detect the land surface rise and fall with millimeter accuracy, an Arizona State University research team has, for the first time, tracked the entire California coast’s vertical land motion.

They’ve identified local hotspots of the sinking coast, in the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, with a combined population of 4 to 8 million people exposed to rapid land subsidence, who will be at a higher flooding risk during the decades ahead of projected sea-level rise.

“We have ushered in a new era of coastal mapping at greater than 1,000 fold higher detail and resolution than ever before,” said Manoochehr Shirzaei, who is the principal investigator of the NASA-funded project. “The unprecedented detail and submillimeter accuracy resolved in our vertical land motion dataset can transform the understanding of natural and anthropogenic changes in relative sea-level and associated hazards.”

The results were published in this week’s issue of Science Advances.

The research team included graduate student and lead author Em Blackwell, and faculty Manoochehr Shirzaei, Chandrakanta Ojha and Susanna Werth, all from the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration (Werth has a dual appointment in the School of Geography and Urban Planning).

Em Blackwell had a keen interest in geology, and as Blackwell began graduate school, the applications of InSAR drew them to pursue this project. InSAR uses radar to measure the change in distance between the satellite and ground surface, producing highly accurate deformation maps of the Earth’s surface at 10s m resolution over 100s km spatial extent.

Land subsidence can occur due to natural and anthropogenic processes or a combination of them. The natural processes comprise tectonics, glacial isostatic adjustment, sediment loading, and soil compaction. The anthropogenic causes include groundwater extraction and oil and gas production.

As of 2005, approximately 40 million people were exposed to a 1 in 100-year coastal flooding hazard, and by 2070 this number will grow more than threefold. The value of property exposed to flooding will increase to about 9% of the projected global Gross Domestic Product, with the U.S., Japan, and the Netherlands being the countries with the most exposure. These exposure estimates often rely only on projections of global average sea level rise and do not account for vertical land motion.

The study measured the entire 1350-kilometer long coast of California from 2007-2018, compiling 1000s of satellite images over time, used for making a vertical land motion map with 35-million-pixel at ~80 m resolution, comprising a wide range of coastal uplift and subsidence rates. Coastal communities’ policymakers and the general public can freely download the data (link in supplemental data).

The four majorly affected in these areas included San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

“The vast majority of the San Francisco Bay perimeter is undergoing subsidence with rates reaching 5.9 mm/year,” said Blackwell. “Notably, the San Francisco International Airport is subsiding with rates faster than 2.0 mm/year. The Monterey Bay Area, including the city of Santa Cruz, is rapidly sinking without any zones of uplift. Rates of subsidence for this area reach 8.7 mm/year. The Los Angeles area shows subsidence along small coastal zones, but most of the subsidence is occurring inland.”

Areas of land uplift included north of the San Francisco Bay Area (3 to 5 mm/year) and Central California (same rate).

Going forward in the decades ahead, the coastal population is expected to grow to over 1 billion people by 2050, due to coastward migration. The future flood risk that these communities will face is mainly controlled by the rate of relative sea-level rise, namely, the combination of rise and vertical land motion. It is vital to include land subsidence into regional projections that are used to identify areas of potential flooding for the urbanized coast.

Beyond the study, the ASU research team is hopeful that others in the scientific community can build on their results to measure and identify coastal hazards more broadly in the U.S. and around the world.



More information:
“Tracking California’s sinking coast from space: Implications for relative sea-level rise” Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4551

Citation:
Satellite survey shows California’s sinking coastal hotspots (2020, July 31)
retrieved 31 July 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-satellite-survey-california-coastal-hotspots.html

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