Final 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 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

Objective:

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.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

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 first project year and another project meeting at Auburn University in the second project year. Further project communications were carried out remotely by teleconference and emails. 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 conducted the full year simulations for 2002. 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.

Evaluations with surface and satellite measurements for the whole year of 2002 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. Further analysis of 2002-2007 satellite measurements reveals large interannual variability in the fire activities in the Southeast in the summer. In comparison, the spring burning is generally more consistent. While early analysis suggests that satellite measurements may have false positives, these recent analyses 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. Another interesting feature that we found for 2002 is that OC/EC ratios are abnormally high in 2002 for the entire United States. There are three potential sources, SOC (driven by abnormal meteorological conditions, such as cloud), long-range transport from Asia (Russia) and Canada boreal fire emissions, local fire emissions in the US. We apply the global GEOS-CHEM in the analysis because of long-range of fire emissions.

With the collaboration between the Auburn and Georgia Tech groups, we finished the “calibration” fuel loading for 2002. The calibration is used to project fuel loading for 2050. 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. The resulting 2050 emissions are put into the Model-3 system to assess the climate impact on fire emissions and air quality in 2050. The analysis results suggest that the ecosystem response to climate change shifts that fuel loading towards the costal states while the total fuel in the region decreases only slightly. An even larger effect is found due to the meteorological change in two areas. The first one is the transport pattern. Because fire emissions are localized, depending on transport, their effects on monitoring stations (EPA AQS, IMPROVE, and SEARCH) are very different. Regional impacts, on the other hand, are less dependent on transport patterns. The second area is the precipitation change. Our simulation for 2050 suggests more rain in the cold season, which results in more rainout of PM2.5.

Direct impact on regional climate by fire emissions was assessed by Y. Liu at the Forest Service group. A test simulation was conducted in the Southeast to understand the effects. The results indicate 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.

Conclusions:

A key personnel, Dr. Zeng Tao, began to work part-time with the PI in September, 2008. As a result, the submissions of some papers were delayed. Dr. Tao just submitted one paper and is currently working on one unfinished paper, and the PI will finish the other un-submitted paper. We expect to have all the papers submitted by the end of the summer this year.


Journal Articles on this Report : 15 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)
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  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Auburn University-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: JEQ-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Hu Y, Odman MT, Chang ME, Jackson W, Lee S, Edgerton ES, Baumann K, Russell AG. Simulation of air quality impacts from prescribed fires on an urban area. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(10):3676-3682. R832276 (Final)
    R830960 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Other: ES&T-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Lee S, Baumann K, Schauer JJ, Sheesley RJ, Naeher LP, Meinardi S, Blake DR, Edgerton ES, Russell AG, Clements M. Gaseous and particulate emissions from prescribed burning in Georgia. Environmental Science & Technology 2005;39(23):9049-9056. R832276 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Other: University of California-Irvine-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Lee S, Kim HK, Yan B, Cobb CE, Hennigan C, Nichols S, Chamber M, Edgerton ES, Jansen JJ, Hu Y, Zheng M, Weber RJ, Russell AG. Diagnosis of aged prescribed burning plumes impacting an urban area. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(5):1438-1444. R832276 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
    R832159 (Final)
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Liu Y, Achtemeier G, Goodrick S. Sensitivity of air quality simulation to smoke plume rise. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 2008;2(1):021503 (12 pp.). R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: USDA-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: SPIE-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Liu Y, Goodrick S, Achtemeier G, Jackson WA, Qu JJ, Wang W. Smoke incursions into urban areas: simulation of a Georgia prescribed burn. International Journal of Wildland Fire 2009;18(3):336-348. R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: USDA-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: CSIRO-Abstract
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  • 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)
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  • Abstract: Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Sheesley RJ, Mieritz M, DeMinter JT, Shelton BR, Schauer JJ. Development of an in situ derivatization technique for rapid analysis of levoglucosan and polar compounds in atmospheric organic aerosol. Atmospheric Environment 2015;123(Part A):251-255. R832276 (Final)
    R831088 (Final)
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  • Abstract: ScienceDirect-Abstract
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  • Other: ScienceDirect-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Tian D, Wang Y, Bergin M, Hu Y, Liu Y, Russell AG. Air quality impacts from prescribed forest fires under different management practices. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(8):2767-2772. R832276 (2007)
    R832276 (Final)
    R830960 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Tian D, Hu Y, Wang Y, Boylan JW, Zheng M, Russell AG. Assessment of biomass burning emissions and their impacts on urban and regional PM2.5:a Georgia case study. Environmental Science & Technology 2009;43(2):299-305. R832276 (Final)
    R830960 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Other: Georgia Tech-Full Text PDF
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  • 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
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  • Abstract: Science Direct-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Zeng T, Wang Y, Yoshida Y, Tian D, Russell AG, Barnard WR. Impacts of prescribed fires on air quality over the Southeastern United States in spring based on modeling and ground/satellite measurements. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(22):8401-8406. R832276 (Final)
    R830960 (Final)
    R831076 (Final)
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  • Abstract: ES&T-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Zeng T, Wang Y. Nationwide summer peaks of OC/EC ratios in the contiguous United States. Atmospheric Environment 2011;45(3):578-586. R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: Science Direct-Full Text HTML
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  • Abstract: Science Direct-Abstract
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  • Other: Science Direct-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Zhang C, Tian H, Chappelka AH, Ren W, Chen H, Pan S, Liu M, Styers DM, Chen G, Wang Y. Impacts of climatic and atmospheric changes on carbon dynamics in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Environmental Pollution 2007;149(3):336-347. R832276 (2007)
    R832276 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Research Gate-Abstract & Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: ScienceDirect-Abstract
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  • Other: ScienceDirect-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Zhang C, Tian HQ, Pan S, Liu M, Lockaby G, Schilling EB, Stanturf J. Effects of forest regrowth and urbanization on ecosystem carbon storage in a rural-urban gradient in the Southeastern United States. Ecosystems 2008;11(8):1211-1222. R832276 (2005)
    R832276 (Final)
  • Full-text: Springer-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract & Full Text HTML
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  • 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, global change, ozone depletion, socioeconomics, climate models, ecosystem indicators, terrestial ecosystem model, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, ecological models, climate model, ecosystem stress, forest resources, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability, air quality

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report