Print Friendly and PDF

Advanced Search Results Detail

Project ID: 11-1-5-13

Year: 2011

Date Started: 05/01/2011

Ending Date:  06/30/2015

Title: Modeling Study of the Contribution of Fire Emissions on BC Concentrations and Deposition Rates

Project Proposal Abstract: Fires are a major source of gaseous and particulate pollutant, including black carbon (BC). In combination with organic carbon (OC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), BC from fire emissions causes air quality degradation. BC is also increasingly recognized as an important contributor to global warming. BC emissions reduction is a potential strategy for mitigating global warming because it is emitted in large quantities and has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere in comparison to long-live greenhouse gases. In evaluating the impact of BC emission reductions in the context of pollution control and mitigating climate change, several factors must be considered. BC is co-emitted with OC, which contributes to total PM pollution. The ratio of emitted BC and OC is important in determining the overall climate effects because OC is estimated to cool the atmosphere. BC is also often co-emitted with VOCs that can form secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Finally, coating by other aerosol components increases the absorption efficiency of BC. Thus, the overall impact of BC from fire emissions cannot be assessed independent of other pollutants and emission sources. Due to the stochastic nature of wildfires and spatial heterogeneity of fuel loading, land use and topography, the regional impact of wildfire emissions varies significantly over the period of the wildfire season and by locations and spatial scales. Furthermore, wildfire occurrence and intensity exhibit strong inter-annual variability due to variability in climate, fuel loading, and other factors so that the relative contributions of wildfire and prescribed fire emissions on atmospheric BC also exhibit inter-annual variability. As the climate gets warmer and wildfire activity intensifies in the future while anthropogenic emissions is projected to decrease, the contribution of fire emissions is expected to increase in the future. We propose to apply the WRF-BlueSky-SMOKE-CMAQ multi-pollutant regional air-quality modeling system for multi-year simulations to evaluate the contribution of fire emissions to atmospheric BC and total PM2.5 concentrations and BC deposition rates onto snow surfaces in the US. To address this goal, we will answer these key questions: 1. What is the contribution of BC from anthropogenic versus fire emissions (wild and prescribed) to atmospheric BC concentrations in the US? 2. What is the contribution of primary OC and SOA from fire emissions and how much do these affect the overall PM2.5 contribution from fire emissions? 3. How do the contributions above vary by season? 4. What is the contribution of BC from anthropogenic versus fire emissions in the US on BC deposition rates onto snowpack and glacial surfaces in western US? 5. For all the questions above, what is projected change in 2050s versus present-day? By answering these questions, we will provide the land management community with a suite of modeled results that focuses on BC concentrations and deposition rates. We will have results from three different modeling domains covering the continental US (36-km grids), the western US (12-km), and the Pacific Northwest (4-km) so that we can examine fire impacts throughout the US, investigate fire impacts in complex terrain with higher resolution, and evaluate model errors associated with grid resolution. We will also evaluate the uncertainty of our results due to the variance in published BC emission factors. In addition, present-day BC concentrations and deposition rates will be compared to those projected for the 2046-2055 decade. For the latter, we will take advantage of existing modeling results that have been used, to date, for ozone and total PM2.5 studies. Perhaps most important, the data set will include results that partition the contribution of BC from fire and non-fire sources, showing the seasonality and inter-annual variability between these sources relative to each other.

Principal Investigator: Serena H. Chung

Agency/Organization: Washington State University-Pullman

Branch or Dept: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Christina T. Bui

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Budget Contact

Rebecca A. Slick

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Brian K. Lamb

Washington State University-Pullman

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Co-Principal Investigator

Tara M. Strand

NZ Crown Research Institute (Scion)

Co-Principal Investigator

Joseph K. Vaughan

Washington State University-Pullman

Laboratory for Atmospheric Research


Narasimhan K. Larkin

Forest Service

PNW-AirFire Research Team


Miriam L. Rorig

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Federal Cooperator

Narasimhan K. Larkin

Forest Service

PNW-AirFire Research Team

Project Locations





Great Basin

Great Plains

Lake States

Oak Woodlands

Northern Rockies




Southern Rockies










Pacific Coast States



Interior West


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.

Convert PDF documents to an html document using Adobe's online conversion tool.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader