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NOAA scientists researching how wildfire smoke impacts air quality

Research scientists at NOAA and NASA are flying into wildfire smoke to better understand wildfires and their impacts on air quality and climate across the country.

BOULDER, Colo. — Research scientists at NOAA and NASA are flying into wildfire smoke to better understand wildfires and their impacts on air quality and climate across the country.

In Colorado, we've seen first-hand how smoke from wildfires out west can travel across the country, making for hazy skies hundreds of miles away.

Steve Brown, a NOAA research chemist, said air quality may also be impacted. 

"That's really one of our major goals," Brown said. "We'd really like to be able to answer that question. How much does wildfire smoke influence ozone in places like Denver and across the western United States? And how can we structure our mitigation strategies to account for that?"

RELATED: Detailed maps of wildfires may lead to better understanding of fire behavior

Right now, wildfire emissions are out of our control, according to Brown. 

"If we're going to say 'what is the right strategy going forward to address ozone in an urban area, like Denver,' we have to understand that contribution from wildfires before you can design a really effective control strategy that takes into account both the urban emissions and the wildfires and any other emission source that might be contributing," he said. 

RELATED: Camp Fire: World's largest air tanker called in for California's most devastating wildfire

Research scientists will spend the next two to three years analyzing data. They hope this will improve forecasting and they hope to have some early conclusions in the next six months to a year.

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