Science Inventory

Implications of burned area approaches in emission inventories for modeling wildland fire pollution in the contiguous U.S.


Koplitz, S., Chris Nolte, G. Pouliot, J. Vukovich, AND J. Beidler. Implications of burned area approaches in emission inventories for modeling wildland fire pollution in the contiguous U.S. 2018 Fire Continuum Conference, Missoula, MT, May 21 - 24, 2018.


Presentation at the 2018 Fire Continuum Conferenc. The science and management of wildland fire is made up of many multifaceted continuums. A clear understanding of these continuums and their relationship to planning, preparation, learning, response, implementation, and evaluation activities is important in order to fully understand the magnitude and extent of what is involved in this increasingly complex area. This conference will be designed around these fire management continuums. We invite you to participate in this journey through the range of science and management activities that take place before a wildfire occurs, activities needed during a wildfire event, and the post fire activities and fire ecology. The continuum theme will resonate throughout the conference by emphasizing the fire experience, education, ecology, and management gradients.


Wildland fires are a major source of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), one of the most harmful ambient pollutants for human health globally. Within the U.S., wildland fires can account for more than 30% of total annual PM2.5 emissions. In order to represent the influence of fire emissions on atmospheric composition, regional and global chemical transport models (CTMs) rely on fire emission inventories developed from estimates of burned area (i.e. fire size and location). Burned area can be estimated using a range of top-down and bottom-up approaches, including satellite-derived remote sensing and on-the-ground incident reports. While burned area estimates agree with each other reasonably well in the western U.S. (within 20-30% for most years during 2002-2014), estimates for the southern U.S. vary by more than a factor of 3. Differences in burned area estimation methods lead to significant variability in the spatial and temporal allocation of emissions across fire emission inventory platforms. In this work, we implement fire emission estimates for 2011 from three different products - the USEPA National Emission Inventory (NEI), the Fire INventory of NCAR (FINN), and the Global Fire Emission Database (GFED4s) - into the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model to quantify and characterize differences in simulated fire-related PM2.5 and ozone concentrations across the contiguous U.S. due solely to the emission inventory used. Preliminary results indicate that the estimated contribution to national annual average PM2.5 from wildland fire in 2011 is highest using GFED4s emissions (0.63 µg m-3) followed by NEI (0.44 µg m-3) and FINN (0.20 µg m-3), with comparisons varying significantly by region and season. Understanding the sensitivity of modeling fire-related PM2.5 and ozone in the U.S. to fire emission inventory choice will inform future efforts to assess the implications of present and future fire activity for air quality and human health at national and global scales.


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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 05/24/2018
Record Last Revised: 06/01/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 340938