SPOKANE, Wash. — NASA is sending planes into our region to check out our wildfire smoke.
NASA's research of wildfire smoke allows scientists to gain perspective of how different fires impact the environment.
"We've been doing experiments where we look at the smoke as it comes out of the fire and then the next day when we fly again we catch that same smoke after it's travelled a state or two over and see how it's changed since we saw it the day before," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Physicist Joshua Schwarz.
NOAA and NASA are investigating how wildfire smoke impacts all of us.
"Improving our understanding of the sources of that smoke, the chemistry in that smoke and health impacts and climate impacts," Schwarz said.
For the last several days they've had "ER-2" and "DC-8" planes over the Williams Flats fire on the Colville Reservation. The fast-growing fire is unique in that, unlike other fires where smoke decreases at night, this fire continues burning heavily.
"The Williams Flats has been pumping smoke much more steadily so it's been unfortunately a source for a lot of smoke so we study it, but it has bigger health impact," Schwarz said.
The planes flying over our region are equipped with machines that take chemical measurements of wildfire smoke. Melinda Berman, a member of the NOAA Fire Weather Forecasting Team, said this research can give insight to the larger wildfire story.
“So it's really important we're able to study these fires and know what they put into the atmosphere and how they impact our health,” Berman said.
NOAA said the research and data will be published in about a year.