Hazier days in the West due to drought and wildfires

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

According to scientists from the universities of Colorado and Utah, the climate shift favoring droughts and more wildfires in the Western United States is leading to hazier days with reduced visibility.

A haze made of dust, soot, ash and smoke—tiny particles that float in the air, not settling—increasingly impairs views, according to the research. The scientists drew on data by Colorado State University and others and deployed shadow band radiometer instruments to measure visibility from once-pristine points around the West, starting with a station at an elevation of 10,525 feet atop the Steamboat Springs ski area.

“You won’t be able to see as far,” said Gannet Hallar, the Utah atmospheric scientist who led the project.

“Your views will decrease. There will be a lot of variability, but on average we’re showing decreases. … In general, we are feeling the impacts of climate change throughout the West.”

The peer-reviewed research results have been published in the science journal Environmental Research Letters. 

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