Since July, 2014, several large wildfires have raged through taiga forests in Sakha, a Russian republic in far northern Eurasia. On August 10, 2014, a particularly intense fire near Yakutsk became large and hot enough that it began to loft smoke high into the atmosphere. Fast-moving upper level winds then transported the smoke more than a thousand kilometers within a few days. A fortuitous break in the clouds gave several NASA Earth-observing satellites a striking view of the lengthy smoke stream.
On August 12, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of smoke streaming north over Siberia and then curving eastward in the Arctic. The length of the plume stretched from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East Siberian Sea. The smoke moves over sea ice, and a broad bank of cloud lies in the west. Long, ripple-like wave clouds can be seen in the northernmost section of the cloud bank. This is likely caused by a clash between warm, dry air over Sakha and cooler, moister air arriving from the west. In the southwest corner of the image, just west of the cloud bank, the air is clear and smoke-free, allowing a crisp image of the land below, including shadows of the clouds falling on the tan landscape.