High altitude haze is caused by smoke from wildfires

If you have looked up at the sky over the last several days you may have noticed a high altitude haze.  While it may look like high cirrus clouds, it is actually smoke from wildfires burning in southern Canada and eastern North Dakota.

Winds in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere capture the smoke particles and spread them downwind.

The animation above depicts the direction the wind is moving at approximately 19,000 feet above the ground.  Follow an individual arrow and you can see how the smoke particles get brought down to the Midwest.

The area highlighted in green is receiving “light” amounts of smoke.  “Medium” smoke is stretching in to western Minnesota.


We often get beautiful images from our camera on Lake Monroe outside of Bloomington.  I was able to grab this image from the camera this morning.  You may have noticed a similar view of the sun in the morning and the evening.  The sun looks redder than normal.  There’s a reason for that.

The smoke particles in the atmosphere overhead are helping filter the sun light, enhancing the oranges and reds.  The smoke particles scatter blue light more than they scatter red light, thus allowing more red color to shine through.

You can learn more about this phenomena from this article written by Dr. Kristine Spekkens of Cornell University.

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