Alberta’s Air Quality: The State of the Science

After a smoky summer in 2021, we wanted to gather a state of the science. While some solid resources exist online, speaking to the experts adds an extra touch.

We conducted a series of interviews, led by some of the foremost Canadian scientists keeping an eye on smoke, its physics, and the effects it has on people:

  • Jack Chen – Modeling Scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Paul McCarthy – Senior Research Scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Chris Rodell – PhD student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia, Operator, BlueSky Canada forecast products
  • Sarah Anderson – Scientific Director of Environmental Health Services, BC Centre for Disease Control
  • Celine Audette – Policy Lead for the Air Quality Health Index, Meteorological Service of Canada

While wildfire events like Fort McMurray are much less common, wildfire smoke has been and will remain a prevalent feature in our future forecasts. So, we delved deep to provide you with the information at our disposal.

RCMP escort evacuees from Fort McMurray, Alberta past wildfires that are still burning out of control Saturday, May 7, 2016.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

The first part in our article series covers the sheer depth of complications and how scientists work to calculate it, the resources required, and the margin of error that still exists.

The second discusses the human impact. Why are smoke particles particularly harmful to humans? How do we stay safe? And why, when smoke is bad, do we only remain under advisories?

Happy reading.

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