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Transatlantic smoke: Europe experiences significant impact of Canadian wildfires

biomass-burning aerosol june 27 2023 model f

Europe has experienced significant smoke transport from the intense wildfires that have been raging in Canada since May. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has been closely monitoring the situation, tracking active fire locations, fire radiative power, emissions, and forecasting the impacts of the resulting smoke on the atmosphere.

The wildfires in Canada, which have been ongoing and intensifying since May, have generated record levels of emissions. These emissions have had a major impact on air quality, not only in Canada but also across the Atlantic in Europe.

According to CAMS data, the fire radiative power (FRP) for Canada in the first three weeks of June was significantly higher than the 2003-2022 mean, with estimated carbon emissions exceeding 100 megatonnes for the month.

cams canadian fires graphs

The smoke from these wildfires reached Europe in the second week of June, and a significant episode of long-range smoke transport across the Atlantic has been forecast by CAMS since June 23. The main volume of smoke reached western Europe on June 26 and is predicted to continue moving further east until June 29.

canada smoke in spain june 27 2023 bg
Image credit: NOAA-20/VIIRS. Acquired on June 27, 2023
june 28 2023 21z biomass burning aerosol europe cams

As of June 26, there were 492 active fires across Canada, including 257 burning out of control. The wildfires in Quebec, which developed in early June, have received significant media attention due to their impact on air quality. Air quality in Montreal is currently ranked as the worst in the world, and millions across North America are being advised to wear high-grade masks outdoors due to the smoke.

The intensity of the Quebec wildfires is reflected in CAMS fire radiative power (FRP) data for June, which are significantly higher than the 2003-2022 mean values for the same period. The CAMS wildfire carbon emissions estimates for Quebec for May-June are also high, at around 3.5 megatonnes, the highest since 2013.

cams canadian fires graphs 2
GFAS v1.2 daily total fire radiative power since 1 May (top) and May-June total estimated wildfire carbon emissions (up to 26 June for 2023) (left) for Quebec and Ontario. Source: CAMS

References:

1 Europe experiences significant transport of smoke from Canada wildfires – Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) – June 27, 2023

Featured image credit: CAMS

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