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Project ID: 12-1-07-1

Year: 2012

Date Started: 10/01/2012

Date Completed: 10/02/2016

Title: Critical Assessment of Wildland Fire Emissions Inventories: Methodology, Uncertainty, Effectiveness

Project Proposal Abstract: An accurate, reliable wildland fire emissions inventory is likely the most important criteria in assessing the impacts of prescribed burning and wildfires on regional air quality and global climate. Significant progress has been made in the past ten years to develop fire emissions inventory systems (FEIS). The primary objective of many FEIS is to provide fire emissions inventories to support air quality modeling and regulatory activities to achieve and maintain compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and the Regional Haze Rule, and to develop State Implementation Plans. However the uncertainty of the emissions inventories produced by these systems has not been characterized at spatial and temporal scales relevant to air quality modeling for ozone, PM2.5 NAAQS, and Regional Haze. This lack of knowledge regarding the uncertainty of the inventories significantly limits their usefulness to air quality regulators and managers. We propose to critically review and quantify the uncertainty of current FEIS and the major components used for estimating wildland fire emissions inventories. The major components are burned area, fuel loading, percentage of fuel burned, and emission factors of atmospheric pollutants, greenhouse gases, and black carbon. The uncertainty of each component will be quantified using ground truth dataset as reference values. The uncertainty of burned areas will be evaluated according to the vegetation type and fire size. The geospatial data of burn severity from the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project will be used as ground truth burned areas. The detection rate of prescribed fires and small wildfires will be quantified by comparison with the Forest Service prescribed fire database for 20082010. The uncertainty of FEIS emission estimates for a wide range of compounds at multiple spatio-temporal scales will be quantified using a Monte Carlo simulation approach. The input data of each component and the estimated emissions inventories for each FEIS will be compared for five large, long-duration wildfire events representing the dominant fire impacted ecosystems of the contiguous U.S. We will acquire and archive the algorithms, data inputs, and documentation of each FEIS and its components. In addition to critically evaluating the uncertainty of each FEIS, we will conduct financial surveys of the costs for development and maintenance of each FEIS component and the FEIS itself for cost-effectiveness analysis. The organizational structure of the agencies for creating the FEIS will also be examined. We will recommend cost-effectiveness and infrastructure improvements for each FEIS. The results will enable air quality and fire managers to objectively select the FEIS tools most suitable for applications such as assessing the impacts of wildland fires on air quality, and developing strategies to maintain compliance with the NAAQS and the Regional Haze Rule. The information is also essential for understanding quantitatively the impacts of wildland fires on global climate.

Principal Investigator: Wei Min M. Hao

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Cindy D. Gordon

Forest Service

RMRS-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Budget Contact

Edith M. Cates

Forest Service

RMRS-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Helen T. Naughton

University of Montana

Economics Department

Co-Principal Investigator

Shawn P. Urbanski

Forest Service

RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Funding Cooperator

Wei Min M. Hao

Forest Service

RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network




Great Basin

Great Plains

Lake States

Oak Woodlands

Northern Rockies




Southern Rockies









Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   7913 Final Report Summary Final Report Summary

Supporting Documents

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