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Susan Anderson

Have been cogitating about this since it appeared, thanks for posting it. You might like to take a look at the connected link (from August 2010):
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/PyroClouds/
(my html isn't up to posting an image; imho the text is fascinating.

A decade ago, a scientist trying to trace the source of those aerosols would have looked for an erupting volcano. A volcanic eruption, it was thought, was the only force powerful enough to loft aerosols twelve kilometers or more into the atmosphere.

But in 2010, meteorologist Michael Fromm saw another suspect far closer to northern Russia. Working at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., Fromm had spent the last decade studying how fires inject smoke into the upper atmosphere. His experience told him that at least one of the hundreds of fires burning in western Russia had probably generated a powerful, dangerous firestorm. ....

Large fires can create their own weather by rapidly heating the air above them. The heated air rises with smoke until water vapor in the air condenses into a puffy cloud. An odd-looking puff of white capping a dark column of smoke is the sign of a fire-formed, or pyrocumulus cloud.

Occasionally, if the superheated air rises fast and high enough, it forms a towering thundercloud. Like the thunderstorms that form on a hot summer’s day, the tops of these cauliflower-shaped clouds reach high enough into the atmosphere that ice crystals form. Those ice crystals electrify the cloud, creating lightning. Called pyrocumulonimbus clouds, the clouds are capable of dangerous lightning, hail, and strong winds. One such firestorm in 2003 pelted Canberra, Australia, with large, soot-darkened hail, produced a damaging tornado, and generated strong winds that caused the fire to explode into neighborhoods in the capital city.

[image well worth a look] ... The umbrella-shaped cloud brought strong winds that helped the fires explode into the city.

As dangerous and destructive as pyrocumulonimbus-driven storms can be, the giant clouds also act like a chimney, sucking smoke high into the atmosphere ... detected extremely high levels of aerosols in the atmosphere....

Susan Anderson

Forgot to mention Colorado fire shows one of those clouds too (EO 18 June). Getting all too common.

Though this is even further from the Arctic, here's the link on the High Park fire that mentions pyrocumulus:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=78312

And in looking it up, found Earth Observatory has stitched together an Arctic view (date May 26):
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=78312

R. Gates

Living in Colorado and being able to see the smoke from the High Park fire I must say that I'm not too impressed with the 32 sq. miles total coverage from the Siberian fires, as the High Park fire by itself is already over 100 sq. miles, and it is only one of several burning in our state and one of dozens burning across the Western U.S.

Very high temps and wind headed back into our region this weekend with humidity in the single digits...and it's not even July yet...the start of our normal fire season.

"Not even July yet...". Isn't that what we've been saying about the Arctic sea ice?

Account Deleted

Not sure the size of the fires we are getting in Borneo and Sumatra at the moment (luckily we haven't had any major out breaks here in Sabah) - but this is the sort of impacts we face:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/28/sumatran-orangutans-dying-indonesia-forest-fire

Otto Lehikoinen

Those smokes from the forest fires travel quite a long way so it's not necessarily so unconnected. Here's an example: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Smoke+from+Russian+fires+covers+Helsinki+on+Monday+afternoon/1135221155495
so it's dependent of the wind direction. And the finer particles travel further, since I've also smelled those too on couple of occasions (western coast)

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