I just saw on the news that there was a huge fire somewhere on the highway (I wasn’t really paying attention) and that there were hugeeeee clouds of smoke moving over residential neighbourhoods.  I’m just curious, do those huge clouds of black smoke cause any serious damage to the atmosphere? I know it’s bad for our health but I was wondering if it was bad for the earths health as well 🙁

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One Response to smoke

  1. avatar Steve says:

    Good question. I think the answer is that the smoke can cause local health problems, but it dissipates from the air fast enough that it doesn’t have any long-term effects. There’s an interesting contrast between aerosols (including smoke from fires and dust from volcanoes) and greenhouse gases. Aerosols wash out of the atmosphere relatively quickly – a good rain shower will clean up the lower atmosphere pretty well. But GHG’s hang around for decades. On the other hand, if there are lots of fires over a wide area (e.g. from the forest clearing in Indonesia) then it can be enough to have a big effect on weather patterns for months.

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