Smoke from west? No, dust from east


Did the huge forest fires on the US West Coast in September impact air quality in Europe? Not really, the measurements show.

What did have an impact, was dust transported by winds from south east.

An unusual weather type for Northern Europe has brought particles from the south eastern part of Europe. The particles are likely dust from dry soil in agricultural areas, travelling with the wind to Northwest Europe. The impact on air quality this weekend was quite noticeable, as the graphs below show.

The very north, like Tromsø, was particularly hard hit by the winds. However, the days ahead should bring cleaner air and lower air pollution levels also to the arctic city.

PM10 Daily averages. Measurements from OpenAQ.org.
PM10 Daily averages. Measurements from OpenAQ.org.

PM10 Daily averages. Measurements from OpenAQ.org.
PM10 Daily averages. Measurements from OpenAQ.org.

Smoke from the US forest fires didn’t reach ground level in Europe

The animation below illustrates how particles were transported across the Atlantic from the US West Coast, and reached Europe around September 20. We see no trace of this in the measurements above.

Aerosol optical depths 18-22 September 2020, showing transport of particles from the forest fires on the US West Coast. Video by Windy.com.

In our previous story we took a closer look on the air quality on the US West Coast in the middle of September. As of today, California forests are still burning, giving dangerously poor air quality in large parts of the state.

Want to keep an eye on the air quality levels?

Try the Airmine app, available in Appstore and Google Play. Hourly air quality forecasts, pollen levels for Europe and a personal symptoms diary and analysis.

Airmine app

Track your symptoms to air pollution and pollen & get local air quality forecasts

Get it on Google Play


WHO tightens air quality guidelines

WHO releases stricter air quality guidelines to protect human health. The new standard for fine particles (PM2.5) is halved, stressing that exposure to PM2.5 is a major health risk.

The accidental badger detector

PM2.5 levels peaked late at night and early mornings at our sensor test site and we struggled to find out why. Turns out the answer had fur and four legs.

We’re measuring pollen!

We are running our airminer 2.0 sensors to calculate local pollen levels. As expected, pollen levels vary with temperature and precipitation, but we also see significant variations through the day.

When to expect birch pollen in Norway?

Hazel and alder is flowering in Southern Norway, but the key allergen to many of us is birch. When can we expect the birch pollen season to start?

Spring in Europe – alder, hazel and birch pollen

We are heading into warmer and lighter days in Europe, lockdowns or not. And no surprise, the pollen is faithfully here.

Oslo – less cars but bad air

Oslo, Norway, is like many other cities under Corona virus lockdown. Less traffic let us expect good air quality, but the opposite proved true for the end of March. We investigate reasons behind the high PM2.5 values.

Better air in Beijing than San Francisco

Last week, you'd rather breathe Delhi air than take a stroll in San Francisco. Smoke and ashes from the huge forest make air quality on the US West Coast the worst in the world.