Smoke from the fires devastating swathes of the U.S. West Coast has reached as far as Europe, the European Union’s climate monitoring service revealed in its assessment of the “unprecedented” blazes.
Satellite data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) showed that the wildfires currently raging across California, Oregon and Washington are “tens to hundreds of times more intense” than the recent average.
Thanks to strong pressure systems, the smoke from the fires was trapped along the western part of North America for days, making for potentially dangerous air quality in major cities such as Portland, Oregon and Vancouver and San Francisco.
CAMS said that it had tracked the long-range transport of smoke particles from the fires as far as 8,000 kilometres to the east — reaching northern Europe.
It estimated that the blazes, which are significantly more likely to occur as the planet warms, have spewed out more than 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since mid-August.
The blazes have already burned nearly five million acres (two million hectares) across the U.S. West, torching an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, with fears the death toll of 35 may rise.