NASA satellite maps CO2 emissions from Amazon fires

New images from NASA's Aqua satellite show gigantic carbon monoxide clouds floating above the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and surrounding areas. The new timelapse video was produced by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) tool between August 8 and 22 in South America.

AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), detects Earth's infrared and microwave radiation. This allows scientists to create three-dimensional maps of the earth's atmosphere, including elements such as temperature, humidity, cloud cover, greenhouse gas concentrations, among other things.

NASA maps carbon monoxide from #AmazonRainforest fires from orbit:

- NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) August 23, 2019

Gas concentrations come from the thousands of forest fires intentionally caused today in the Amazon rainforest - fires that were linked to President Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to weaken Brazilian environmental laws and subsequent illegal deforestation operations. AIRS data shows carbon monoxide per billion in volume (ppbv) at altitudes up to 5, 500 meters (18, 000 feet).

In the video you can see that feathers appear for the first time in northwestern Amazonia, moving south and east - including a concentrated cloud that travels to Sao Paulo. The city saw the sky darken in the middle of the afternoon last week due in part to the smoke from the flames.

To create each frame in the video, NASA averaged carbon monoxide volume in three-day groups. Red spots show carbon monoxide in volumes that reach 160 parts per billion (ppb), while yellow shows 120 ppb and green 100 ppb. Local levels are probably "significantly higher, " according to NASA.

Poison in the air

Studies indicate that the gas stays in the atmosphere for about a month. As it approaches the surface, it impacts air quality and affects human health. According to the New York State Department of Health, inhaling carbon monoxide causes the body's oxygen supply to fall, causing headaches, reducing alertness and aggravating angina, characterized as temporary chest pain.

Fine particles reach the respiratory tract and reach the lungs. Inhalation of fine particles can cause a variety of health effects, including respiratory irritation and shortness of breath, and can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. In addition, carbon monoxide is also responsible for intensifying the effects of climate change, contributing to the formation of urban pollution and unhealthy air.