2005 Progress Report: Investigation of the Effects of Changing Climate on Fires and the Consequences for U.S. Air Quality, Using a Hierarchy of Chemistry and Climate Models

EPA Grant Number: R832275
Title: Investigation of the Effects of Changing Climate on Fires and the Consequences for U.S. Air Quality, Using a Hierarchy of Chemistry and Climate Models
Investigators: Logan, Jennifer A. , Byun, Daewon , Diner, David , Jacob, Daniel J. , Li, Qinbin , Mazzoni, Dominic M. , Mickley, Loretta J.
Institution: Harvard University , Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Pasadena , University of Houston
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2008 (Extended to March 31, 2010)
Project Period Covered by this Report: April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006
Project Amount: $750,000
RFA: Fire, Climate, and Air Quality (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Global Climate Change , Climate Change , Air


This project is an assessment of the impacts of climate change on forest fires and ozone and particulate matter air quality in the United States from the present day until 2050. The project will explore the relationships between climate and frequency and intensity of forest fires in North America. Future climate predicted using a general circulation model (GCM) and relationships between fire and climate that we have developed will be used to predict future fires in the United States. The height of forest fire plumes over North America will be investigated using the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) satellite data. Using global and regional scale chemistry-aerosol transport models, we will investigate the role of future fires on air quality.

Progress Summary:

We have explored relationships between area burned and climate in the Western United States and Alaska. In forested ecosystems of the Western United States, summer temperature and fuel moisture explain between 40 and 60 percent of the variance in annual area burned. We presented results of our fire prediction schemes for the Western United States at the Fall American Geophysical Union 2005 Conference in San Francisco. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has completed work on the new version of the 23-layer GCM (Model III) and has run the model with observed climate forcing from 1950 to 2005; this will serve as the spin-up for the future climate simulation. Our area burned prediction schemes are now ready to calculate future area burned once we have meteorological output from the GISS GCM. Interannual variability of fine aerosol (PM2.5) in the Western United States is partly explained by interannual variability in wildfires in the Western United States. Area burned and biomass consumed respectively explain 54 percent and 63 percent of the variance in PM2.5. We are now running the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS)-Chem chemistry-aerosol transport model with observed fires in the Western United States to further explore the role of wildfires in variability of fine aerosol. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory automatic plume algorithm has been applied to the 2004 wildfire season. Identification of 77 plumes has been completed. Fire plumes have altitudes of between 0.7 and 5.8 km. The meteorological output from the GISS model has been downscaled for use in Mesoscale Model (version 5) to drive the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model.

Future Activities:

Using meteorological fields provided by the GCM and the area burned prediction schemes we have developed, we will calculate area burned by fires in North America between present day and 2050. We will run the GEOS-Chem chemistry-aerosol transport model with observed fires in the Western United States to explore the role of forest fires in present day air quality. We will continue analysis of the MISR data to explore the heights of forest fire plumes over North America. We will run the GISS GCM for 10 years with future fires and simple wildfire tracers to investigate the impacts on air quality. We will perform 5-year GEOS-Chem and CMAQ simulations with future area burned and future climate input from the GCM.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 14 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

forest fires, fire emissions, biomass burning, air quality, tropospheric ozone, tropospheric aerosol, PM, visibility, climate models, air pollution, climate change, downscaling,, 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, environmental measurement, meteorology, climatic influence, global ciruclation model, ozone depletion, tidal marsh, socioeconomics, ecosystem indicators, climate models, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, climate model, ecosystem stress, forest resources, ecological models, sea level rise, air quality, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability

Relevant Websites:

http://www-as.harvard.edu/chemistry/trop/curresh.html#wildfires Exit

http://www.imaqs.uh.edu Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • Final Report