Special Issue "Biomass Burning Emissions Modeling and Simulation: In Partnership with the Third International Smoke Symposium"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Shawn P. Urbanski
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula, MT 59808, USA
Interests: wildland fire; fire emissions; emission inventories; emission factors; smoke impacts; plume rise

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biomass burning smoke is a rich mixture containing hundreds of gases and aerosol diverse in size, composition, and morphology. Globally, biomass fires are a major source of gases and aerosols, and the production, dispersion, and transformation of biomass fire emissions has significant air quality and climate impacts. In many regions across the globe, biomass fires are a significant source of air pollution and can be a major hazard to public health. Aerosols from biomass fires impact the climate system by absorbing and scattering radiation, by affecting the optical properties, coverage, and lifetime of clouds, and by lowering the snow and ice albedo in the Arctic. Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in characterizing the composition of fresh smoke, modeling smoke emissions, understanding the chemical and physical processes that transform smoke as it ages and mixes with the ambient atmosphere, and simulating the related air quality and climate impacts.

The open-access journal Atmosphere in partnership with the Third International Smoke Symposium (https://www.iawfonline.org/event/3rd-international-smoke-symposium/) is hosting a Special Issue featuring models of biomass burning emissions, smoke transport and transformation, and associated air quality impacts. Original research covering all aspects of retrospective and operational emission inventories, plume rise, smoke dispersion, and smoke chemistry is solicited. This Special Issue also seeks modeling and observational studies of smoke impacts on air quality and atmospheric composition. Studies across all scales, from individual prescribed fires to global emissions inventories, are welcome. Works on the development of models and methods for forecasting the emissions and associated air quality impacts of wildfire smoke are especially encouraged.

Dr. Shawn P. Urbanski
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biomass burning
  • Wildland fire
  • Emissions
  • Emission inventories
  • Plume rise
  • Smoke dispersion
  • Smoke impacts

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Apportioning Smoke Impacts of 2018 Wildfires on Eastern Sierra Nevada Sites
Atmosphere 2020, 11(9), 970; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11090970 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 876
Abstract
The summer of 2018 saw intense smoke impacts on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in California, which have been anecdotally ascribed to the closest wildfire, the Lions Fire. We examined the role of the Lions Fire and four other, simultaneous large [...] Read more.
The summer of 2018 saw intense smoke impacts on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in California, which have been anecdotally ascribed to the closest wildfire, the Lions Fire. We examined the role of the Lions Fire and four other, simultaneous large wildfires on smoke impacts across the Eastern Sierra. Our approach combined GOES-16 satellite data with fire activity, fuel loading, and fuel type, to allocate emissions diurnally per hour for each fire. To apportion smoke impacts at key monitoring sites, dispersion was modeled via the BlueSky framework, and daily averaged PM2.5 concentrations were estimated from 23 July to 29 August 2018. To estimate the relative impact of each contributing wildfire at six Eastern Sierra monitoring sites, we layered the multiple modeled impacts, calculated their proportion from each fire and at each site, and used that proportion to apportion smoke from each fire’s monitored impact. The combined smoke concentration due to multiple large, concurrent, but more distant fires was on many days substantially higher than the concentration attributable to the Lions Fire, which was much closer to the air quality monitoring sites. These daily apportionments provide an objective basis for understanding the extent to which local versus regional fire affected Eastern Sierra Nevada air quality. The results corroborate previous case studies showing that slower-growing fires, when and where managed for resource objectives, can create more transient and manageable air quality impacts relative to larger fires where such management strategies are not used or feasible. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Wildfire Smoke Transport and Air Quality Impacts in Different Regions of China
Atmosphere 2020, 11(9), 941; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11090941 - 03 Sep 2020
Viewed by 690
Abstract
The air quality and human health impacts of wildfires depend on fire, meteorology, and demography. These properties vary substantially from one region to another in China. This study compared smoke from more than a dozen wildfires in Northeast, North, and Southwest China to [...] Read more.
The air quality and human health impacts of wildfires depend on fire, meteorology, and demography. These properties vary substantially from one region to another in China. This study compared smoke from more than a dozen wildfires in Northeast, North, and Southwest China to understand the regional differences in smoke transport and the air quality and human health impacts. Smoke was simulated using the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model (HYSPLIT) with fire emissions obtained from the Global Fire Emission Database (GFED). Although the simulated PM2.5 concentrations reached unhealthy or more severe levels at regional scale for some largest fires in Northeast China, smoke from only one fire was transported to densely populated areas (population density greater than 100 people/km2). In comparison, the PM2.5 concentrations reached unhealthy level in local densely populated areas for a few fires in North and Southwest China, though they were very low at regional scale. Thus, individual fires with very large sizes in Northeast China had a large amount of emissions but with a small chance to affect air quality in densely populated areas, while those in North and Southwest China had a small amount of emissions but with a certain chance to affect local densely populated areas. The results suggest that the fire and air quality management should focus on the regional air quality and human health impacts of very large fires under southward/southeastward winds toward densely populated areas in Northeast China and local air pollution near fire sites in North and Southwest China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Multiscale Numerical Modeling Study of Smoke Dispersion and the Ventilation Index in Southwestern Colorado
Atmosphere 2020, 11(8), 846; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080846 - 10 Aug 2020
Viewed by 586
Abstract
The ventilation index (VI) is an index that describes the potential for smoke or other pollutants to disperse from a source. In this study, a Lagrangian particle dispersion model was utilized to examine smoke dispersion and the diagnostic value of VI during a [...] Read more.
The ventilation index (VI) is an index that describes the potential for smoke or other pollutants to disperse from a source. In this study, a Lagrangian particle dispersion model was utilized to examine smoke dispersion and the diagnostic value of VI during a September 2018 prescribed fire in southwestern Colorado. Smoke dispersion in the vicinity of the fire was simulated using the FLEXPART-WRF particle dispersion model, driven by meteorological outputs from Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) simulations of the background (non-fire) conditions. Two research questions are posed: (1) Is a horizontal grid spacing of 4 km comparable to the finest grid spacing currently used in operational weather models and sufficient to capture the spatiotemporal variability in wind and planetary boundary layer (PBL) structure during the fire? (2) What is the relationship between VI and smoke dispersion during the prescribed fire event, as measured by particle residence time within a given horizontal or vertical distance from each particle’s release point? The ARPS no-fire simulations are shown to generally reproduce the observed variability in weather variables, with greatest fidelity to observations found with horizontal grid spacing of approximately 1 km or less. It is noted that there are considerable differences in particle residence time (i.e., dispersion) at different elevations, with VI exhibiting greater diagnostic value in the southern half of the domain, farthest from the higher terrain across the north. VI diagnostic value is also found to vary temporally, with diagnostic value greatest during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon period, and lowest during thunderstorm outflow passage in the late afternoon. Results from this study are expected to help guide the application of VI in complex terrain, and possibly inform development of new dispersion potential metrics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Incorporating a Canopy Parameterization within a Coupled Fire-Atmosphere Model to Improve a Smoke Simulation for a Prescribed Burn
Atmosphere 2020, 11(8), 832; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080832 - 07 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 900
Abstract
Forecasting fire growth, plume rise and smoke impacts on air quality remains a challenging task. Wildland fires dynamically interact with the atmosphere, which can impact fire behavior, plume rises, and smoke dispersion. For understory fires, the fire propagation is driven by winds attenuated [...] Read more.
Forecasting fire growth, plume rise and smoke impacts on air quality remains a challenging task. Wildland fires dynamically interact with the atmosphere, which can impact fire behavior, plume rises, and smoke dispersion. For understory fires, the fire propagation is driven by winds attenuated by the forest canopy. However, most numerical weather prediction models providing meteorological forcing for fire models are unable to resolve canopy winds. In this study, an improved canopy model parameterization was implemented within a coupled fire-atmosphere model (WRF-SFIRE) to simulate a prescribed burn within a forested plot. Simulations with and without a canopy wind model were generated to determine the sensitivity of fire growth, plume rise, and smoke dispersion to canopy effects on near-surface wind flow. Results presented here found strong linkages between the simulated fire rate of spread, heat release and smoke plume evolution. The standard WRF-SFIRE configuration, which uses a logarithmic interpolation to estimate sub-canopy winds, overestimated wind speeds (by a factor 2), fire growth rates and plume rise heights. WRF-SFIRE simulations that implemented a canopy model based on a non-dimensional wind profile, saw significant improvements in sub-canopy winds, fire growth rates and smoke dispersion when evaluated with observations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Uncharacteristic Occurrence of the June 2013 Biomass-Burning Haze Event in Southeast Asia: Effects of the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Tropical Cyclone Activity
Atmosphere 2020, 11(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11010055 - 01 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
One of the worst haze events to ever hit Peninsular Malaysia occurred in June 2013 due to smoke from Riau, Central Sumatra. While biomass-burning in the region is common, the early occurrence of a haze episode of this magnitude was uncharacteristic of the [...] Read more.
One of the worst haze events to ever hit Peninsular Malaysia occurred in June 2013 due to smoke from Riau, Central Sumatra. While biomass-burning in the region is common, the early occurrence of a haze episode of this magnitude was uncharacteristic of the seasonality of extreme fire events, which usually occur between August and October in the Maritime Continent (MC). This study aims to investigate the phenomenology of the June 2013 haze event and its underlying meteorological forcing agents. The aerosol and meteorological environment during the event is examined using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) active fire hotspot detections and aerosol optical thickness retrievals, satellite-based precipitation retrievals, and meteorological indices. These datasets are then supported by a WRF-Chem simulation to provide a comprehensive picture of the event’s meteorology and aerosol transport phenomenology. While extreme fire events are more characteristic of El Nino years, the MODIS fire count over the MC in June for the years 2001–2015 was highest in 2013 when neutral El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions prevailed. Although, the mean daily precipitation for June 2013 was below average for June 2003–2015. An early active tropical cyclone (TC) season occurred in 2013, and results show that the combined induced subsidence and flow enhancement due to TC Bebinca and the dry phases of a strong Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) event contributed to the event intensification. Results also show that Bebinca induced a decrease in surface relative humidity of at least 10% over Riau, where fire hotspots were concentrated. Full article
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