Smoke from the Canadian wildfires reached Greenland earlier this week, darkening skies and affecting air quality.
Posted at 7:00 p.m.
What there is to know
- Smoke from Canadian wildfires reached Greenland earlier this week.
- The unusual phenomenon is due to a weather depression in northern mainland Nunavut, explains Environment and Climate Change Canada.
- The smoke is also affecting Baffin Island, Nunavut.
In various locations on the west coast of this autonomous Danish territory, even cars and garden furniture were covered in soot, and local police received calls from concerned citizens, the Sermitsiaq daily reported.
“On Monday it was as if the sun had never risen, even at noon it was very dark,” Quebec oceanographer Caroline Bouchard, who lives in the capital Nuuk, told La Presse.
There was an apocalyptic atmosphere with large black clouds and an intense smell of smoke.
Authorities also recommended that people with lung diseases stay indoors on Monday.
It is a meteorological depression in the north of the continental region of Nunavut that would have pushed the smoke as far as Greenland, explains meteorologist Natalie Hasell from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“The winds associated with this system are coming from northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories, through the central part of Saskatchewan and then up towards Baffin Island,” she explains, adding that the municipality of Iqaluit in Nunavut was also blanketed in smoke .
A second factor explains why the smoke remained dense over such a long distance, Ms. Hasell adds: the lack of “vertical mixing” of the air.
“The conditions were such that there wasn’t much […] Turbulence, instability to dilute the concentration of the smoke,” explains the meteorologist.
This smoke comes from fires raging in the Northwest Territories and northern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and, to a lesser extent, Quebec, she states.
It’s unusual for smoke from Canadian wildfires to reach Greenland, said Caroline Bouchard, who had never seen anything like it in her seven years there.
In June, when smoke from the Canadian fires reached New York, Greenland “had a few red sunsets because of the smoke particles, but there was no smell or black clouds,” she said.
“But I come from Chibougamau, so the forest fires after the evacuation last summer worry me a lot,” admits the researcher.
Although it’s not common for smoke from Canadian fires to reach Greenland, the phenomenon is not surprising, says Natalie Hasell.
“We keep seeing smoke coming from Siberia to Canada,” she explains, adding that there have been several cases of smoke from Canadian fires reaching France.
And the amount of smoke doesn’t have to be very large to travel far, the meteorologist adds.
“A few years ago, smoke from one or two fires in Alberta was carried into the region [française] the Loire,” she remembers.
The smoke has now cleared in Greenland, the air quality is good again and, according to weather forecasts, will remain that way in the coming days.
On the other hand, Iqaluit still remains in the smoke cloud and the air quality there remains worse, observes Natalie Hasell, although the situation improved slightly on Wednesday.
What is the difference between a low pressure area and a high pressure area?
A low-pressure area means that the atmospheric pressure, or weight of air on the ground, in a particular area is lower than in surrounding areas, explains meteorologist Natalie Hasell of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Conversely, a high pressure area means that the atmospheric pressure in a particular area is higher than the surrounding area. In Canadian latitudes, low pressure areas are associated with windy weather and precipitation, while high pressure areas are synonymous with fine weather and very cold or very hot temperatures.
56,865 inhabitants of Greenland on July 1st
Source: Government of Greenland