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Smoke from western fires wafts eastward

Natural-color satellite image

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on Aug. 21, 2015. Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner

On August 21, 2015 the Aqua satellite captured this image of the smoke from the fires on the west coast of the United States wafting eastward on the jet stream. In this image the smoke is obscuring parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The smoke released by any type of fire (forest, brush, crop, structure, tires, waste or wood burning) is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot. Exposure to high levels of smoke should always be avoided.

Residents of these states are on notice that sunsets will be much redder and more orange as long as the smoke lingers over their area. The reason? The size of the smoke particles is just right for filtering out other colors meaning that red, pink and orange colors can be seen more vividly in the sky.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on Aug. 21, 2015. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner.

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