Smoke From Forest Fires Impact Solar Radiation and Crop Yields? [Listen]
Smoke and haze from the forest fires in Canada and Northern Minnesota sure have produced some beautiful sunsets here in Southern Minnesota. There was one morning this summer when I could even smell the smoke as I walked across Central Avenue to the studio. One of the hazy days I got to thinking about how it was impacting solar radiation.
Remember plants in the presence of chlorophyll and sunlight take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and release oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. Quite simply corn and soybean plants are solar collectors storing the sun's energy in corn and soybean seeds. Plants and photosynthesis is the basis of all the food we eat. That means solar radiation is critical to survival of the humans.
I asked Tom Hoverstad Scientist at the Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca about all the smoke and if that was impacting solar radiation. I am not sure how but they track solar radiation at the Southern research and Outreach Center. Tom said solar radiation was 7 percent below normal during August but he did not think it would impact crop yields.
Remember cloudy days also decrease solar radiation so a few more sunny days than normal would likely counter the haze form the smoke. Tom also said he suspects we normally get more solar radiation than the plants need but there will likely be more research done to determine what impact all the haze may have on crop production. Click on the link and listen to Tom discuss smoke and solar radiation.
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