2006 Progress Report: 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 , Liu, Yongqiang , Russell, Armistead G. , Tian, Hanqin
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 Period Covered by this Report: April 1, 2006 through March 31,2007
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


The objectives of the study are to:

  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.
  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.

Progress Summary:

We worked on research related to the four scientific objectives. The coordination among the different institutes is streamlined. In addition to email/phone exchanges, we held a project meeting at Georgia Tech in 2005 and another project meeting at Auburn University in 2006. All the involved groups participated. Research tasks and goals for each group were identified, research results were discussed, modeling interfaces for air quality, climate, and ecosystem systems were clarified, and group coordination is established. GaTech group is responsible for fire emissions and air quality modeling using EPA Model-3 system, including MM5 simulations, SMOKE processing and CMAQ simulations. Auburn group is responsible for ecosystem simulations. The Forest Service group works with GaTech on fire emission and regional climate simulations.

We have finished present-day simulations. Model results are evaluated using available observations. A particular concern is the extent that satellite observations can be used for this purpose. Initial simulation for March 2002, the month with the largest fire emissions in the Southeast, is conducted to examine the effects of fire emissions on regional air quality. Sensitivity runs with and without prescribed fire emissions were conducted. Estimated fire emissions and model simulations are evaluated with surface observations of PM2.5 and its components, O3, CO, and NOx. Satellite observations of MOPITT CO column and MODIS and GOES fire counts are also evaluated. Manifestations of fire emissions in these observations are identified and used to evaluate model simulations. The results will be submitted for publication soon.

We have also finished the simulations for the whole year of 2002. Evaluations with surface and satellite measurements were also conducted. Three satellite products from Terra and Aqua MODIS and GOES show much higher summertime emissions than VISTAS inventory. Sensitivity simulations are conducted and appear to suggest that VISTAS may have underestimated the emissions. However, the inconsistency between the seasonal variations between VISTAS inventory and satellite fire counts remains unexplained. The investigation is ongoing.

GaTech group provided all necessary input data to Auburn group for ecosystem modeling. These data include surface ozone concentrations and the deposition of nitrogen species (based on the global model simulations using GEOS-CHEM) and meteorological data as surface temperature and incoming solar radiation (obtained from National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Results from climate simulations for 2050 were also provided to Auburn. The Auburn group worked on (1) development of an integrated process-based Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model (DLEM) for estimating the fuel load of southeastern ecosystems; (2) database development for the model simulation; (3) model simulation of the fuel loading of southeastern ecosystem in 2002; (4) model calibration; and (5) preliminary fuel loading for the southeast in 2050. DLEM is an improved ecosystem model developed from TEM.

GaTech group worked with Y. Liu to examine radiation and climate effects of smoke. A test simulation was conducted in the Southeast to understand the effects. The preliminary results suggest that smoke particles emitted from fires reduce solar radiation and the surface temperature in this region, and cause changes in precipitation pattern most noticeably in the major rainfall regime in the eastern United States.

Future Activities:

GaTech group is now working actively to try to resolve the inconsistencies between VISTAS inventory for 2002 and satellite fire count products. While early analysis suggests that satellite measurements may have false positives, more recent work appear to point to the possibility that year 2002 is “abnormal” in terms of fire activities in the Southeast. The quality of emission inventory directly affects the impact assessments in this work. More importantly, the VISTAS emission inventory is used by the community at large for activities such as SIP planning. We feel that it is of great importance to understand better the quality of VISTAS emission inventory using surface and satellite measurements. We worked with the Auburn group to “calibrate” fuel loading for 2002. The calibration is now used to project fuel loading for 2050. The resulting emissions will be put into the model to assess the climate impact on fire emissions and air quality in 2050. Direct impact on regional climate by fire emissions is currently being assessed by the Forest Service group.

Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 48 publications 16 publications in selected types All 15 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Chen H, Tian H, Liu M, Melillo J, Pan S, Zhang C. Effect of land-cover change on terrestrial carbon dynamics in the southern United States. Journal of Environmental Quality 2006;35(4):1533-1547. R832276 (2005)
R832276 (2006)
R832276 (2007)
R832276 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Auburn University-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: JEQ-Abstract
  • Journal Article Ren W, Tian HQ. Effects of ozone pollution on terrestrial ecosystem productivity. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology 2007;31(2):219-230. R832276 (2006)
    R832276 (2007)
    R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology-Full Text PDF (Chinese)
  • Abstract: Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology-Abstract
  • Journal Article Wang W, Qu JJ, Hao X, Liu Y, Sommers WT. An improved algorithm for small and cool fire detection using MODIS data: a preliminary study in the southeastern United States. Remote Sensing of Environment 2007;108(2):163-170. R832276 (2006)
    R832276 (2007)
    R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: Science Direct-Full Text HTML
  • Abstract: Science Direct-Abstract
  • Other: Science Direct-Full Text PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    prescribed fire, air quality, climate change, ecosystem, sensitivity, uncertainty,, 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:

    Original Abstract
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • Final Report