Thick smoke from the northern bushfires spreads through cities from Ottawa to New York, prompting health warnings from environmental regulators for millions across the eastern United States and Canada.
Canada is battling an active wildfire season with fires burning across most of its 10 provinces and territories for most of the last month. Smoke from the fires spread south through parts of North America’s most populous city this week.
New York City’s air quality surpassed New Delhi’s on Wednesday, ranking it among the worst major metropolitan areas in the world, according to the IQAir Global Air Quality Index.
As the COVID-19 emergency subsides, New York residents have put on their recently discarded face masks again. Schools have canceled outdoor activities, and the city has asked vulnerable New Yorkers to stay indoors and close windows.
“Yesterday New Yorkers saw and smelled something that had never before affected us on this scale,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday morning, adding that the event ” “It shocked the whole city,” he said.
New York state officials called it a “multi-day event” after the situation eased on Wednesday morning and expected it to worsen again in the afternoon and evening. U.S. aviation regulators Wednesday afternoon recommended “ground delays” for flights to Philadelphia, Newark and LaGuardia Airports, citing “poor visibility” for pilots.
Washington’s public schools also suspended outdoor activities for students as Washington’s environmental regulator issued a “Code Red” air pollution alert for the District of Columbia.
Canada’s environmental regulator has classified air quality in the country’s capital, Ottawa, as having reached the highest level of health risk. Large areas of Quebec and Ontario were subject to air quality warnings from Canadian authorities.
Fires in Canada’s major oil-producing province of Alberta earlier this spring forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and forced more than a dozen oil and gas companies to temporarily close or curtail operations.
More wildfires are now burning in forests in eastern states such as Quebec and Nova Scotia. More than 400 wildfires had broken out across Canada as of Wednesday, burning nearly four million hectares so far this year, according to the Interagency Forest Fire Center of Canada.
Scientists have observed that boreal forest fires in the northern hemisphere have intensified over the past decade, and as a result of global warming, average temperatures in the northern part of the globe are rising faster than near the equator. . The North Pole has melted.
As the Earth warms and summers get hotter, wildfires north of the equator are generally becoming more frequent and intense. May 2023 has been globally ranked as her second warmest May on record, according to the Copernicus European Observatory.
Some parts of Asia, particularly China and Vietnam, are breaking heat records, with unusually warm weather beginning months earlier than the usual July and August summers. Parts of Siberia also set all-time highs last week.
Sea surface temperature hit an all-time high this month, near record levels since March.
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