A plume of smoke stretched across the Bering Sea on May 11, 2012, as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead. This natural-color image shows part of the Bering Sea, just off of far eastern Russia. The smoke appears dull blue-gray and darker than the surrounding clouds.
The smoke may have arisen from wildfires in the region around Lake Baikal, where numerous wildfires burned in early May. A model from the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory suggests that smoke from the Lake Baikal region would take just a few days to reach the Bering Sea.
In a study published in 2004, scientists tracked the movement of smoke from Russian wildfires, finding that it typically travels in one of two directions: northwest towards Scandinavia or east toward the Okhotsk Sea. The smoke blowing east often crosses the Bering Sea towards Alaska and Canada.
Smoke from the Lake Baikal region also appeared to be hampering air quality over China, as shown in this image.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Michon Scott with information from Ralph Kahn, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.