Investigating fire emissions and smoke transport during the Summer of 2013 using an operational smoke modeling system and chemical transport model
Friday, 19 December 2014
Emissions from fires in the Western US are substantial and can impact air quality and regional climate. Many methods exist that estimate the particulate and gaseous emissions from fires, including those run operationally for use with chemical forecast models. The US Forest Service Smartfire2/BlueSky modeling framework uses satellite data and reported information about fire perimeters to estimate emissions of pollutants to the atmosphere. The emission estimates are used as inputs to dispersion models, such as HYSPLIT, and chemical transport models, such as CMAQ and WRF-Chem, to assess the chemical and physical impacts of fires on the atmosphere. Here we investigate the use of Smartfire2/BlueSky and WRF-Chem to simulate emissions from the 2013 fire summer fire season, with special focus on the Rim Fire in northern California. The 2013 Rim Fire ignited on August 17 and eventually burned more than 250,000 total acres before being contained on October 24. Large smoke plumes and pyro-convection events were observed. In this study, the Smartfire2/BlueSky operational emission estimates are compared to other estimation methods, such as the Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) and other global databases to quantify variations in emission estimation methods for this wildfire event. The impact of the emissions on downwind chemical composition is investigated with the coupled meteorology-chemistry WRF-Chem model. The inclusion of aerosol-cloud and aerosol-radiation interactions in the model framework enables the evaluation of the downwind impacts of the fire plume. The emissions and modeled chemistry can also be evaluated with data collected from the Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) aircraft field campaign, which intersected the fire plume.