Skip to main content

Massive Smoke Plume Spied from Space

russia wildfires, bering sea images, wildfire smoke images, lake Baikal wildfires
A NASA satellite captured this image on May 11. (Image credit: NASA.)

As a diaphanous plume of smoke stretched out across the Bering Sea in early May, a passing satellite snapped a picture of the graceful haze.

A lovely image, indeed, yet it's likely the smoke is the result of a fiery inferno burning many miles to the west. In northern Russia, wildfires have been burning for days.

Dozens of fires have been raging in the mountains south of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on Earth, and models suggest that smoke from the region could reach the Bering Sea in just a few days.

In a study published in 2004, scientists tracked the movement of smoke from Russian wildfires, and found that it typically travels in one of two directions: either northwest toward Scandinavia, or east toward the Sea of Okhotsk.

If the smoke blows east, if often crosses the Bering Sea and moves toward Alaska and Canada.

According to Russian media reports, more than 300 people, including 50 paratroopers and 100 firefighters, have been deployed to battle the fires burning in the remote Lake Baikal region.

Smoke from the fires has also affected air quality in China.

Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and onFacebook.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.