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Project ID: 16-1-08-1

Year: 2016

Date Started: 10/01/2016

Ending Date:  09/30/2018

Title: Southern Integrated Prescribed Fire Information System for Air Quality and Health Impacts

Project Proposal Abstract: As population increases, air quality regulations continue to tighten, and stricter controls are applied to other pollution sources, understanding the impacts of prescribed burning emissions is becoming more critical for the land managers in the Southern U.S. In this research, an interdisciplinary team of investigators from Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University and USFS Southern Research Station aims to develop and deliver an integrated prescribed fire and air quality information system for the Southern Consortium. The system will comprise prescribed burn and air quality data, and results from model simulation that will be conducted using state-of-the science models to address questions regarding the impacts of prescribed burning on air quality, smoke exposure and associated health effects. Although air pollution is a regional problem, there is currently no common record of prescribed fire occurrences and characteristics for the Southern U.S. One will be developed consolidating electronic burn permit records, information from alternative burn tracking systems and, when necessary, satellite products. The reason for our reliance on land-based records more than satellite retrievals is that satellite products are known to underestimate prescribed burn emissions by a factor of 3 to 5. Data will be gathered for recent years (2011-2015) in this research but the system will be designed to dynamically update the data going forward. Data and information compiled will be used in emissions, plume rise and air quality and health impacts models to provide a consortium-level analysis of the impact of burns. The reason for choosing air quality models over alternatives such as trajectory or dispersion models is that air quality models, by simulating complex atmospheric transport and chemistry processes in presence of emissions from all sources, can provide more accurate estimates of the regional impacts. Fire and air quality managers will have access to the data, analyses, tools and other research products through a web-based application. This application will also provide links to the daily air quality and prescribed burn impact forecasts already being provided by Georgia Tech for dynamic management. To achieve project objectives research tasks are broken into 5 subprojects with a lead PI assigned to each one. Linkages between subprojects are an essential component of the overall project. Subproject 1 will establish a unified database for prescribed burns based on permit records from southern states. This database will be at the heart of an integrated prescribed fire and air quality information web-based system built under Subproject 2. In Subproject 3, overlapping fire and observational air quality records will be analyzed to quantify discernable impacts of prescribed burning and identify a collection of case studies that can be used to evaluate smoke emissions and dispersion tools. Subproject 4 will rely on state-of-the-science atmospheric modeling and data fusion techniques to simulate the impacts of prescribed burning on air pollution at a regional level. These impacts will be used by Subproject 5 to assess the health burden associated with prescribed fire in the South and characterize affected communities. This research will be leveraged by ongoing projects on dynamic management of prescribed burning, improving the performance of air quality forecasting, and development of air quality fields for exposure assessments. Delivery of the results to the broader scientific community will be through conference presentations and publications. The implications will be described to fire managers in collaboration with the Southern Fire Exchange through fact sheets and webinars. The major outcome of the project will be an increased understanding of the air quality and health impacts of prescribed burning throughout the Southern Consortium.

Principal Investigator: Mehmet T. Odman

Agency/Organization: Georgia Institute of Technology

Branch or Dept: School of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Joyce M. Gorgas

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station

Budget Contact

Shelly M. Gates

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Fernando Garcia Menendez

North Carolina State University-Raleigh

College of Engineering

Co-Principal Investigator

Cassandra Y. Johnson

Forest Service

SRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Athens GA

Funding Cooperator

Cassandra Y. Johnson

Forest Service

SRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Athens GA

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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