Hi, I'm Bryan Yeaton and this is the Weather Notebook. If you live in a smoggy area, you already know the toll such pollution takes on your view of things. But on clear days in Alaska, residents can sometimes get views of over 100 miles because the air is so clean. Scientists fear that may be changing, as correspondent Amy Mayer reports
From her office at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, atmospheric chemist Cathy Cahill can look south and see the snow capped, jagged peaks of the Alaska Range.
Our worst 10% of visibility is better than the east coast's best 10% of visibility. We're spoiled. You would never been able to see the Alaska Range if you were in someplace like Shenandoah.
But not every day grants that view. Summer wildfires fill the sky with smoke and ash, and winter's not perfect either.
We have a phenomenon every winter of Arctic Haze, where we've got emissions primarily from Russia but from some areas of northern Europe as well, crossing the poles, swinging into Alaska from the North and you can see those as elevated brown clouds, you can see those as far south as Fairbanks but they're more obvious over the pole or near Barrow.
Cahill uses small filters to collect air samples around Interior Alaska. At Denali, she monitors the air quality that is already known to be the cleanest of any national park in the country.
A lot of what we have is, we've got the cleanest air around, now how do you improve it. How do you improve on something that's really pretty clean to begin with?
It's tough to sell the idea of clean up at home when the air's generally pristine. Finding ways to encourage other countries to reduce their emissions is an even greater challenge.
Amy Mayer takes in the Alaskan Range from her window in Fairbanks. Thanks today to Subaru for it's generous support of The Weather Notebook.