2012 Progress Report: Dynamic Management of Prescribed Burning for Better Air Quality

EPA Grant Number: R835217
Title: Dynamic Management of Prescribed Burning for Better Air Quality
Investigators: Odman, Mehmet Talat , Chan, Daniel , Chang, Michael E. , Hu, Yongtao , Wilt, Kenneth
Current Investigators: Odman, Mehmet Talat , Chan, Daniel , Chang, Michael E. , Hu, Yongtao , Tian, Di
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , Georgia Environmental Protection Division
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: June 1, 2012 through May 31, 2015 (Extended to February 28, 2017)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2012 through May 31,2013
Project Amount: $500,000
RFA: Dynamic Air Quality Management (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


Prescribed burning (PB) is an important part of land management in the Southeastern United States but also a threat to air quality. If rigid restrictions are imposed on PB because of air quality concerns, ecological and hazard reduction benefits of PB are reduced. Forecast-based dynamic management can both reduce the air quality risks and maximize the amount of lands treated by PB as go/no-go decisions can be made on relatively short notice. The objectives of this project are to:

  • Develop a PB impact prediction system that can be used in forecasting mode using existing forecasting systems, available observational data, and recently developed modeling tools
  • Evaluate the forecasting accuracy of the system under PB influence on air quality
  • Integrate this system into PB management and investigate dynamic management options
  • Assess the benefits of dynamic PB management

Progress Summary:

The goals of the project have not changed from the original application. Activities during the first year of the project focused on the development of the fire impact forecasting system. The goal of the system is to predict the air quality impacts of prescribed burns, which are being targeted for dynamic management in this project. The forecast of when and where the burns will be ignited and their likely emissions will be based on weather, list of potential burners, and fuel loads. For this, the Georgia Forestry Commission's burn permit database for the past 8 years has been analyzed. Location and acreage of fire managed lands and date of last burn occurrence have been recorded. This information will be updated at least each year but preferably more frequently, through a dynamic interface to the permit database. Burning patterns such as frequency, fire weather preferences, and ignition methods have been identified. Fuel load, fuel consumption and emission predicting elements of the forecasting system have been assembled. This method of "bottom-up" emission estimation has been evaluated by comparison to emission estimates derived from satellite observations in a prescribed burn in California. The reason for choosing this burn was the availability of PM measurements by aircraft, providing a means for evaluating the accuracy of emission estimates as well as the accuracy of the plume rise and dispersion component of the forecasting system. The air quality model and version to be used in the simulations has been identified. A comprehensive southeastern U.S. emissions inventory for the year 2007 has been acquired for use in upcoming air quality impact simulations and tested for completeness. Data related to fires and other sources in this inventory have been carefully reviewed by the southeastern states as part of the Southeastern Modeling Analysis and Planning (SEMAP) project.

Future Activities:

A model-based, high-resolution air quality forecasting system and forward sensitivities computed by the Decoupled Direct Method will be employed to predict the potential air quality impacts of PB emissions. Predictions will be evaluated through case studies of incidences when PB impacts are detected by the statewide air quality monitoring network. A new permitting process will be designed than can take advantage of the air quality and PB impact forecasts and manage PB emissions after considering the cumulative impact of all potential burns on regional air quality. While permits may have to be denied or acreages restricted for best air quality outcomes on some days, burns may be encouraged on other days when there are no imminent concerns. The effects of the new permitting process will be assessed through simulations with the new prediction system.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 19 publications 6 publications in selected types All 4 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Davis AY, Ottmar R, Liu Y, Goodrick S, Achtemeier G, Gullett B, Aurell J, Stevens W, Greenwald R, Hu Y, Russell A, Hiers JK, Odman MT. Fire emission uncertainties and their effect on smoke dispersion predictions:a case study at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire 2015;24(2):276-285. R835217 (2012)
R835217 (2013)
R835217 (2014)
R835217 (Final)
  • Abstract: CSIRO-Abstract
  • Journal Article Garcia-Menendez F, Hu Y, Odman MT. Simulating smoke transport from wildland fires with a regional-scale air quality model: sensitivity to uncertain wind fields. Journal of Geophysical Research–Atmospheres 2013;118(12):6493-6504. R835217 (2012)
    R835217 (Final)
  • Full-text: Wiley Online-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Wiley Online-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

     Silviculture, forest fuels, forecasting, forward sensitivity, simulation

    Relevant Websites:

    Smoke Impact Prediction Center Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
    2013 Progress Report
    2014 Progress Report
    2015 Progress Report
    Final Report