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The impact of US wildland fires on ozone and particulate matter: a comparison of measurements and CMAQ model predictions from 2008 to 2012
Wilkins, J., G. Pouliot, K. Foley, W. Appel, AND Tom Pierce. The impact of US wildland fires on ozone and particulate matter: a comparison of measurements and CMAQ model predictions from 2008 to 2012. International Journal of Wildland Fire. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Victoria, Australia, 27(10):684-698, (2018). https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18053
Adding wildland fire emissions to the CMAQ model increases daily fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations above 35 µg m-3 by 37% across the U.S., while the influence on elevated levels of daily ozone and annual PM2.5 is modest. Results of model evaluation suggest the need to better characterize wildland fires.
Wildland fire emissions are routinely estimated in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Inventory, specifically for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and precursors to ozone (O3); however, there is a large amount of uncertainty in this sector. We employ a brute-force zero-out sensitivity method to estimate the impact of wildland fire emissions on air quality across the contiguous US using the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) modelling system. These simulations are designed to assess the importance of wildland fire emissions on CMAQ model performance and are not intended for regulatory assessments. CMAQ ver. 5.0.1 estimated that fires contributed 11% to the mean PM2.5 and less than 1% to the mean O3 concentrations during 2008–2012. Adding fires to CMAQ increases the number of ‘grid-cell days’ with PM2.5 above 35 µg m−3 by a factor of 4 and the number of grid-cell days with maximum daily 8-h average O3 above 70 ppb by 14%. Although CMAQ simulations of specific fires have improved with the latest model version (e.g. for the 2008 California wildfire episode, the correlation r = 0.82 with CMAQ ver. 5.0.1 v. r = 0.68 for CMAQ ver. 4.7.1), the model still exhibits a low bias at higher observed concentrations and a high bias at lower observed concentrations. Given the large impact of wildland fire emissions on simulated concentrations of elevated PM2.5 and O3, improvements are recommended on how these emissions are characterised and distributed vertically in the model.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
COMPUTATIONAL EXPOSURE DIVISION