A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Accelerating awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science information - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program

Author(s): Shawn P. Urbanski
Year Published: 2017

Smoke from wildland fires has a significant impact on public health and transportation safety and presents a serious complication for air regulators seeking to design effective and efficient emission control strategies to meet and maintain air quality standards. Wildland fires produce numerous hazardous air pollutants and criteria pollutants (fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate lead) which are regulated under the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Addressing the substantial public health, regulatory, and transportation safety impacts of smoke from wildland fires requires a significantly improved understanding smoke production, dispersion, and chemistry that may be used to evaluate, improve, and develop smoke modeling systems. The Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE) is a comprehensive research effort to improve the scientific understanding of wildland fire behavior, plume rise, and smoke dispersion, and smoke chemistry. FASMEE is a large-scale interagency effort to identify the critical measurements necessary to improve operational wildland fire and smoke prediction systems, collect observations through a coordinated field campaign, and utilize them to advance science and modeling capabilities. This project has developed the Smoke Emissions, Chemistry, and Transport Observational Study Plan for the FASMEE project.

The study plan identifies key science questions which must be addressed to develop improved smoke models for protecting public health and transportation safety and for designing effective air pollution control strategies. A comprehensive inventory of the field observations required to address these key science questions has been assembled. Sampling strategies, platforms, and measurement methods and instrument technology have been carefully considered to design a field measurement plan that satisfies the observational requirements defined by the key science questions. The study plan combines ground-based (mobile and fixed location), tower, and airborne platforms to comprehensively characterize smoke from the source to distances of 30 km downwind and throughout its vertical depth, over the duration of the FASMEE prescribed fires.

Emission factors will be measured for the lofted plume and the extended duration residual smoldering, which is not entrained in the convective plume, and can have significant local impacts. Downwind measurements of the plume by an aircraft with a suite of chemistry instruments will provide the observations needed to fill critical gaps in the current knowledge of smoke chemistry and develop improved chemical reaction mechanisms for air quality models. Measurements from tall towers and vertical profiles by aircraft will characterize the vertical distribution of density, a necessary observation for the proper evaluation of plume models.

Citation: Urbanski, Shawn P. 2017. Accelerating awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science information. Joint Fire Science Project 16-4-04-1. Missoula, MT: US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 22 p.
Topic(s): Fire Communication & Education, Smoke & Air Quality, Smoke & Populations, Smoke Emissions
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 17026
FRAMES RCS number: 23826
Record updated: May 18, 2018