Today’s ag report: Why are sunrises and sunsets so red?

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 6:44 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 8:54 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Have you ever wondered why sunrises and sunsets are so red?

According to TV6 Meteorologist Kevin Phelps, wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, specifically in southern Canada, have spread smoke throughout much of the Midwest over the last several weeks, which has impacted sunrises and sunsets.

Another thing that affects the color is the “scattering” of light.

Phelps said during the midday hours, the sun has the most direct path here from our atmosphere to the surface. Heading into sunset time, it gets low on the horizon. That light must travel through a lot of the atmosphere, and as that happens, all sorts of colors get scattered out by aerosols, dust, and smoke.

According to Phelps, the most often color scattered is red “by the time it hits our eyes.” If you add smoke into the atmosphere, it makes it much redder here for both sunrises and sunsets.

“So all this light starts off as white, starts to get scattered more and more, by the time it reaches our eyes, it looks like that color red and with that smoke and haze in the atmosphere, it’s looked even redder here over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

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