climate in crisis

Rising Temps Increasing Bay Area Pollution & Smoke

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While we have all heard about the temperatures rising over the past 20 years, there’s many side effects that are now starting to show. 

One of those side effects has to do with our air quality and it becoming worse as heat driven wildfires are producing an increasing amount of smoke pollution.  Look at the data below and you can see from 1991 to 2010 we averaged 3.6 days per year with “spare the air alerts” and or poor air quality.  This number really jumped over the past 10 years to an average of 18 days per year having poor air quality.

But where is the link between warmer temperatures and poor air quality-smoke? Check out the data below and you can see our temperatures have been trending above average, especially over the past 10 years. These hotter and drier days help to trap more air pollution. The heat has also contributed to longer fire seasons, pushing more smoke into the air. In fact, 2020 had a record number of smoky days from September into October with 30 consecutive days of poor air-smoke.

While no one knows when new wildfires will bring dangerous smoke, we do know that more high fire danger is on the way this Summer as our current drought is expected to continue.

You can find out more about how the Bay Area climate is changing in a series of stories the Microclimate Weather Team worked on across the Bay Area.

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