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Wildland fire emission sampling at Fishlake National Forest, Utah using an unmanned aircraft system

Author(s): Johanna Aurell, Brian K. Gullett, Amara L. Holder, F. Kiros, William Mitchell, Adam C. Watts, Roger D. Ottmar
Year Published: 2021

Emissions from a stand replacement prescribed burn were sampled using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS, or 'drone') in Fishlake National Forest, Utah, U.S.A. Sixteen flights over three days in June 2019 provided emission factors for a broad range of compounds including carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen oxide (NO2), particulate matter < 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including carbonyls, black carbon, and elemental/organic carbon. To our knowledge, this is the first UAS-based emission sampling for a fire of this magnitude, including both slash pile and crown fires resulting in wildfire-like conditions. The burns consisted of drip torch ignitions as well as ground-mobile and aerial helicopter ignitions of large stands comprising over 1,000 ha, allowing for comparison of same-species emission factors burned under different conditions. The use of a UAS for emission sampling minimizes risk to personnel and equipment, allowing flexibility in sampling location and ensuring capture of representative, fresh smoke constituents. PM2.5 emission factors varied 5-fold and, like most pollutants, varied inversely with combustion efficiency resulting in lower emission factors from the slash piles than the crown fires.

Citation: Aurell, Johanna; Gullett, Brian K.; Holder, Amara; Kiros, F.; Mitchell, William; Watts, Adam C.; Ottmar, Roger D. 2021. Wildland fire emission sampling at Fishlake National Forest, Utah using an unmanned aircraft system. Atmospheric Environment 247:118193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2021.118193
Topic(s): Mapping, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Prescribed Fire-use treatments, Smoke & Air Quality
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 22710
FRAMES RCS number: 62605
Record updated: Mar 9, 2021