The Science Of Wildfire Smoke : Short Wave Smoke from wildfires can travel huge distances. We've already seen smoke from the fires in California reach all the way to Minnesota. And with all that smoke comes possible risks to human health. So what actually is smoke? Jessica Gilman, an atmospheric chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains what it's made of, how it behaves in the atmosphere, and smoke's role in climate change.
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The Science Of Wildfire Smoke

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The Science Of Wildfire Smoke

The Science Of Wildfire Smoke

The Science Of Wildfire Smoke

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Smoke drifts over Interstate 80 as the LNU Lightning Complex fire burns through the area in Fairfield, Calif. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Smoke drifts over Interstate 80 as the LNU Lightning Complex fire burns through the area in Fairfield, Calif.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Smoke from wildfires can travel huge distances. We've already seen smoke from the fires in California reach all the way to Minnesota. And with all that smoke comes possible risks to human health. So what actually is smoke? Jessica Gilman, an atmospheric chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains what it's made of, how it behaves in the atmosphere, and smoke's role in climate change.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Viet Le and fact-checked by Emily Kwong.

Correction Aug. 27, 2020

An earlier version of this episode incorrectly characterized the relationship between smoke and climate change as part of a negative feedback loop. In fact, it is a positive feedback loop.