Shocking NASA images shows how forest fires, exhaust fumes and sandstorms are polluting the atmosphere
- Every time you breathe in, you’re inhaling what NASA refers to as ‘aerosols’.
- While most of these particles are harmless when in the air, there are also exhaust gas particles that can lead to serious health problems.
- NASA’s Goddard Flight Space Centre used satellite images to create a model, which shows how aerosol particles in our atmosphere are distributed across the world.
- NASA’s report has found that cereal cultivation, man-made fires, and sandstorms may also be affecting air quality.
Every time you breathe in, you’re inhaling what NASA call ‘aerosols’. In the majority of cases aerosols are harmless particles in the air and are perfectly safe when they occur in the form of dust or fog in low concentrations.
In the case of exhaust gases like soot, oil or smoke, however, these nanoparticles can give rise to serious health problems, and it isn’t just nanoparticles produced industrially that can be dangerous; even nanoparticles from forest fires can be harmful.
Using satellites to measure the reflection and absorption of different wavelengths of light in the atmosphere, NASA’s Goddard Flight Space Centre measured how solid and liquid aerosol particles floating in our atmosphere spread across Earth — including everything from volcano ash and dust from winds to exhaust fumes, wildfire, and sea salt.
Natural events are clearly visible in the NASA’s satellite image
—NASA (@NASA) August 24, 2018 ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed” style=”box-sizing: border-box; margin: 20px 0px;”>
If you have ever watched smoke billowing from a wildfire or dust blowing in the wind, you’ve seen aerosols. This visualization uses @NASAEarth satellite data to show the expansive view of the mishmash of particles that dance & swirl through the atmosphere https://go.nasa.gov/2wnTIk6
In the model NASA produced, different colours represent the three main types of aerosols: red or yellow colours represent black carbon particles, originating from fires and exhaust or factory emissions. Purple colours are representative of dust and the blue colours indicate giant swirls of sea salt aerosol.
The effects of natural phenomena such as the forest fires in North America and South Africa, as well as tropical cyclones in America and Asia are particularly distinctive in the image, while tons of dust can be seen blowing across the African continent from the Sahara.
NASA has found that land use is also affecting our air quality
Through years of collating and analysing aerosol data, NASA has found concrete trends in how land use affects air quality.
According to NASA’s report, there are particularly high aerosol values in South America between July and September, that are likely to be related to the large areas of forest being burnt there for cereal cultivation.
Sandstorms also occur more frequently on the Arabian Peninsula between May and August, carrying dust particles into the atmosphere — it’s estimated that about 90% are from natural sources such as storms, however it should also be noted that 10% of aerosols come from humans, from exhaust fumes or man-made fire.