Interaction of Ecosystems, Fires, Air Quality and Climate Change in the Southeast

EPA Grant Number: R832276
Title: Interaction of Ecosystems, Fires, Air Quality and Climate Change in the Southeast
Investigators: Wang, Yuhang , Russell, Armistead G. , Tian, Hanqin , Liu, Yongqiang
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , USDA Forest Service , Auburn University Main Campus
Current Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , Auburn University Main Campus , USDA Forest Service
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2009
Project Amount: $749,047
RFA: Fire, Climate, and Air Quality (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Climate Change , Air , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Global Climate Change


Large amounts of biomass are burned in the Southeast. Fire emissions have been found to significantly affect air quality in the region. The effects of fire emissions will change significantly as a result of climate and land use changes. The objectives of this research are: (1) integrate process-based ecosystem, fire emissions, air quality, and regional climate models to systematically understand the complex interaction of these components in the Southeast in a climate change setting; (2) evaluate the integrated modeling system with state fire statistics, ground and satellite observations for the present and understand better the effects of fire emissions on air quality in the Southeast; (3) propagate and calculate the sensitivities of the modeling system to major inputs, and to use those sensitivities to quantify uncertainties in the system results; and (4) assess the impact of regional climate and land use changes and fire management on ecosystems and fire emissions and the consequent effects on air quality in the Southeast. Further, assess the impact of changing aerosol concentrations as a result of fire emissions and other sources on regional climate.


We have assembled a research team with expertise in modeling regional climate, terrestrial ecosystems, fire emissions, and air quality to tackle the complex interaction among the four components. Four models/modeling systems will be used: the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM), EPA fire emission model, Models-3 components (CMAQ/MM5/SMOKE) and the Regional Climate Model (RegCM). The modeling is processed based such that fundamental understanding of the mechanistic causal relationships can be investigated. In the initial phase, we will constrain and evaluate the modeling components using state fire statistics in Georgia, Florida, and other states like South Carolina, direct satellite observations of burned area and fire counts, AIRS, IMPROVE, STN, SEARCH, and ASACA ground monitoring networks at rural sites, and satellite observations of CO and aerosol optical depth. Furthermore, the effects of long-range transport of fire emissions from the Southwest, Northwest, and Canada will be evaluated relative to regional fire emissions over the Southeast. In the second phase, we focus on understanding the interaction of regional climate, terrestrial ecosystems, fire emissions, and air quality in 2050. Model simulations will be conducted under climate change scenarios simulated by Hadley Climate Model and NCAR Climate System Model. Two different climate projections are used since we want to understand the sensitivity of our results to climate scenarios. Besides climate change, we will also consider the effects of land use change on fire and biogenic emissions. Projected changes of anthropogenic emissions will also be taken into account. We hypothesize that (1) significant changes in the seasonal and geographical distributions of fire emissions will occur as a result of climate and land-use changes; (2) biogenic emissions as those from fires will change significantly, affecting O3 and PM concentrations in the region; and (3) aerosol from fires, biogenic emissions (SOA), and other sources will have significant impact on regional climate.

Expected Results:

We expect that our findings will provide a systematic framework for modeling and understanding the interaction of ecosystems, fire emissions, air quality and climate change. Furthermore, the uncertainty in the projected consequences of climate change for fires and the impact of fire emissions on air quality will be analyzed using the framework. Lastly, we will explore the feedback of aerosols from fire emissions and other sources on regional climate.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 48 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 15 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Particulate matter, ozone, chemical transport, environmental chemistry, engineering, remote sensing, integrated assessment, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Environmental Chemistry, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Aquatic Ecosystem, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, anthropogenic stress, Southwest, environmental measurement, meteorology, climatic influence, global ciruclation model, ozone depletion, global change, socioeconomics, ecosystem indicators, climate models, terrestial ecosystem model, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, climate model, ecosystem stress, forest resources, ecological models, air quality, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • Final Report