The smoke from the Canadian fires has reached Europe, but it's not all that black

Photo: Forest fire / illustration

Smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning in Canada, which has already spread to parts of the United States and put the country on air quality alert, has reached as far as Norway, scientists in the country said.

The smoke spread these days from Canada, through Greenland, Iceland and reached Norway, the media reports.

Scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Climate and Environmental Research (NILU) were able to detect the rise in the level of smoke in the air using sensitive instruments, and then confirm its origin using forecast modelling.

"People in Norway may be able to smell and even notice the smoke as a faint haze, but, unlike parts of the United States that have experienced hazardous pollution, they should not experience any health effects," said Nikolaos Evangeliou, a scientist at NILU.

The plume is expected to spread across Europe in the coming days, but it is unlikely that people will be able to smell or see the smoke, Evangeliou said.

It is not uncommon for smoke from large fires to travel long distances. "Smoke from wildfires like those in Canada lingers at high altitudes, so it stays in the atmosphere longer and can travel long distances," he said.

In 2020, smoke from then-record-breaking wildfires in California was detected in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located deep in the Arctic Circle.

However, in addition to the direct impact on people through air inhalation, smoke also has negative climate impacts. Smoke from wildfires drifts over Arctic soot deposits on snow and ice, darkening the white surface, which can then absorb more heat. The whole process is accelerating the warming of the Arctic.

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