California wildfires in the northern part of the state have resulted in "fire clouds." California has also declared wildfire emergency in the state.
The wildfire has destroyed crops on several thousand acres of land. It has also burnt a number of buildings, which has resulted in residents fleeing from homes. Reports also suggest that the evacuated buildings included a long-term care facility for people suffering from dementia and other diseases.
The wildfire started in early August this year and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), reveals that more than 100,000 acres or 400 sq. km of forest and grassland has been destroyed by the fire.
NASA explains that pyrocumulonimbus clouds are an extension of the pyrocumulus clouds, which are also called fire clouds. These clouds are cauliflower-shaped and seen as dense bright white clouds over darker smoke.
"Pyrocumulus clouds are similar to cumulus clouds, but the heat that forces the air to rise (which leads to cooling and condensation of water vapor) comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground," per NASA. "Pyrocumulus clouds can produce full-fledged thunderstorms,turning them into the pyrocumulonimbus clouds present in this image."
Pyrocumulonimbus clouds are a significant phenomenon and scientists say that they closely monitor them because they can spew pollutants and smoke very high into the Earth's atmosphere. When wind disperses the pollutants, it can affect the air quality over a large area even at a distance from where these clouds originated.
The smoke released by the wildfire in California is said to be a mix of particles as well as chemicals formed by partial burning of carbon-containing materials.
NASA says that smoke caused by fire clouds should be avoided as they can result in many health problems. Scattered rain and emergency work has helped bring the fire under some control.
NASA's Earth Observatory has released some fascinating images of the massive fire clouds. Some images have been taken by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite and others from an Oregon Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet.
The satellite images show the evolution of the fire clouds as well as the speedy expansion of the wildfire in regions of California, The F-15 images reflect a closer encounter with the fire clouds over Beaver Complex.
Check out the image of the fire clouds released by NASA's Earth Observatory.