Influence of 2010 Canadian Forest Fires on Cloud Formation on the Regional Scale
Abstract:In July 2010 a strong biomass burning event occurred in the North of Saskatchewan, Canada. The fires were well observed by satellites. The changing synoptic situation and the variations in plume height created a complex distribution of the emitted gaseous and particulate matter.
The comprehensive regional model system COSMO-ART allows us to study the influence of aerosols on the atmosphere. The formation of new aerosol particles from gaseous precursors is as well accounted as changes in the mixing state of existing aerosol particles. The impact of aerosol particles on cloud microphysics and precipitation is simulated by a two-moment scheme in combination with parameterizations for aerosol activation and ice nucleation. To address emissions from biomass burning, the model system was extended by a plume rise model. It delivers the effective emission height which depends on the current state of the atmosphere and the fire intensity. Datasets based on satellites provide the composition and source strength of numerous chemical tracers.
With this framework we are able to gain insight into various effects of aerosols from biomass burning. We found that simulated aerosol optical depth is in very good agreement with AERONET measurements. Temperature at the surface is significantly influenced by adsorbing and scattering particles inside elevated smoke layers. This has further impact on thermal stratification. The high aerosol load inside clouds leads to displaced precipitation patterns. Number and size distributions of cloud droplets are examined for different smoke regimes. It turns out that it depends on the hygroscopicity of available aerosols.