2016 Progress Report: Wildfires in the Rocky Mountains Region: Current and Future Impacts on PM2.5, Health, and Policy

EPA Grant Number: R835869
Title: Wildfires in the Rocky Mountains Region: Current and Future Impacts on PM2.5, Health, and Policy
Investigators: Liu, Yang , Chang, Howard , Fu, Joshua , Liu, Yongqiang , Strickland, Matthew J
Institution: Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University , U.S. Forest Service , University of Nevada - Reno , University of Tennessee - Knoxville
EPA Project Officer: Keating, Terry
Project Period: January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 2016 through December 31,2016
Project Amount: $786,089
RFA: Particulate Matter and Related Pollutants in a Changing World (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Global Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Climate Change


In recent decades, the Western United States has seen heightened wildfire activity, characterized by a higher frequency of large wildfires, a longer fire season, larger fire size, and a greater total area burned. With projected temperature increases, soil moisture reduction, and more frequent air stagnation, the burden of wildfires on air quality, public health, and environmental management will likely increase. With state-of-the-art global climate, regional climate, and air quality models; ground and satellite measurements; and detailed health information, we propose to investigate the impacts of historical and future wildfires on air quality, public health, and environmental management in the Rocky Mountains Region under various climate change scenarios and population growth patterns.

Progress Summary:

To estimate the contribution of climate change and emissions control to future O3 levels separately at high spatial resolution in the continental United States, we developed a hybrid dynamical-statistical downscaling approach to project and separate the impacts of climate change and air pollution emissions control on future O3 levels under both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 (Reference Concentration Pathways). Additionally, we expanded our analysis and estimate county-level excess mortality due to projected O3 exposure in the 2050s and evaluate the spatial and temporal patterns of associated estimated health risks. This work helped us gain the necessary knowledge and develop computer codes to analyze the new CESM/WRF-CMAQ simulation results to be generated by Oak Ridge National Lab/University of Tennessee.

A manuscript to document this work is currently being revised for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Future Activities:

In year 2 of our project, we will (1) generate downscaled air quality and meteorological data during the fire season in the 2050s in the Western United States, and (2) complete the development of a PM2.5 exposure model to support our epidemiological study of the health impact of PM2.5 exposure on Emergency Department visits and hospitalization in Colorado.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Particulate Matter, PM2.5, Wildfires, CESM, WRF-CMAQ, dynamical downscaling

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2017 Progress Report