Wildfire haze eases in Edmonton as 55 hours of smoke-filled sky recorded so far in 2021

Much of Alberta has been blanketed by smoke for several days, but it finally lifted on Wednesday. As Morgan Black reports, Edmonton has spent triple the amount of time this year under smoke-filled sky compared to a decade ago.

It’s been a summer of extreme heat and thick smoke in Edmonton.

The city has spent nearly four times the amount of time this year under a smoke-filled sky compared to 10 years ago.

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According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, between 1981 and 2010, Edmonton averaged 14 hours of smoke-reduced visibility per summer.

In 2021, Edmonton has already seen 55 hours. Four out of the last five years have seen above-average smoke levels, according to the national weather agency.

In 2020, the city did not see any hours where visibility was reduced by smoke at the Edmonton International Airport.

Kyle Fougère, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said climate change leads to hotter temperatures, which create more wildfires and smoke.

“There is a strong link between wildfire activity and climate change. We are more likely to have summers where we are dealing with smoke in Alberta,” Fougère said.

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Fougère said it’s not just the conditions in Alberta that impact air quality.

“A lot of our smoke has come from southern B.C., northern Saskatchewan and even the Pacific Northwest in the United States,” he explained.

There’s not yet enough data to tease out a trend because there’s too small of a sample size. However, Fougère said more data is on the way to give us a clearer picture of smoke level increases.

“We will recalculate using 1991-2021 data for what our new smoke averages will be,” he said.

As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Edmonton sat at a two on the Air Quality Health Index.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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