As the Canadian wildfire season progresses, the nation is preparing for what may end up being the most destructive season ever.
However, the ramifications of this Canadian crisis extend far beyond its borders. Around 75 million people were subjected to air quality advisories due to the smoke from these raging flames, which covered a sizable area of the United States, including New York and Philadelphia. Unbelievably, during the past two days, these menacing clouds of smoke travelled across Greenland and Iceland before appearing in Norway.
These catastrophic effects of Canadian wildfire are a clear reminder of the need to address climate change and its disastrous impact immediately.
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Why Is Canada In Flames?
Western Canada is no stranger to severe wildfires, particularly during the summer season, as the impact of climate change becomes increasingly evident through drying vegetation and rising atmospheric temperatures.
On the other hand, Eastern provinces, such as Quebec, are better sheltered from fires due to the breeze from the North Atlantic Ocean, which keeps the land cooler and less prone to severe fires. Eastern forests are also less combustible than Western forests due to the presence of broadleaf deciduous trees.
However, this time, things were a little different for the eastern parts- low humidity, rainfall, and lots of heat- an ideal setting for igniting a fire.
In Quebec, wildfires were ignited by lightning, while the cause of the fires in Alberta remains unknown, as stated by officials. In other areas, improper disposal of cigarette butts or sparks from passing trains is some of the leading causes.
According to some researchers, another probable explanation for the Canadian wildfire is the destabilising of jet streams caused by the loss of arctic sea ice and rising temperatures.
When Will The Eastern US Finally Catch A “Breath?”
A large counter-clockwise swirling low-pressure system above Nova Scotia has generated southward winds from Quebec, which flow eastward towards coastal cities like New York. Clearing the smoke from these cities will require a shift in weather patterns.
The concentration of particulate matter in the air due to smoke was at unhealthy levels across various regions, including Indiana, Ohio, sections of the Mid-Atlantic, and the southern parts of the United States, as reported by AirNow.
However, by Friday, significant improvements in air quality were observed in many of these areas. The thick cloud of smoke engulfing the northeastern US gradually dissipated by the end of the week, transforming into a hazy condition stretching along the East Coast, extending as far south as Florida.
Unfortunately, the long-term forecast presents concerns. More dry and potentially warmer-than-average weather is anticipated in certain parts of Canada throughout the summer, indicating that the conditions conducive to wildfires may persist for months.
And with the spreading fire comes the smoke.
Is This The Dawn Of A New Normal?
It’s no surprise that climate change is the culprit for these prolonged and increasingly devastating fire seasons in Canada and worldwide.
So, is this going to be the new normal for the United States? Well, fortunately, no.
Because specific variables, like wind patterns, are necessary, the eastern United States may not be blanketed in smoke every summer. However, given the current rate of global warming and climate change, it is more probable that it will occur sooner rather than later.
This, however, should serve as a wake-up call to those who have been neglecting the potential impacts of climate change. It is high time to change our perception of climate change; otherwise, this seasonal adversity may turn into daily life much sooner than one can anticipate.
Sonal comes from a variety of backgrounds. She has bachelors in biochemical engineering and a master's in renewable energy. Sonal can efficiently communicate scientific knowledge to various audiences because of her multidisciplinary and strong academic background in research and writing. She aims to create compelling, informative content that promotes environmental awareness and inspires action.