Research Topics

To learn more about our research, please see one of the following topic areas:

 

Emissions, Smoke, and Air Quality

AirFire has done extensive work in the areas of wildland fire emissions, smoke, and air quality, including:

  • creating the BlueSky Modeling Framework that integrates a wide collection of models along the smoke modeling chain (fire information, fuel loadings, consumption modeling, emissions modeling, time rate of emissions modeling, plume height estimations, and smoke trajectory and dispersion modeling) that has been integrated into many different smoke prediction systems and scientific modeling efforts;
  • creation of the SmartFire platform that allows for associating, merging, and reconciling fire information from disparate sources including both satellite and ground based systems into a unified data stream;
  • creating a variety of tools for managers to help mitigate smoke impacts;
  • comprehensively analyzing uncertainties and errors in fire emissions and smoke modeling capabilities and uncertainties; and
  • developing new and improved scientific models for key components of fire emissions and smoke modeling.

Fire Emissions

AirFire works with partners from across the country to compute and analyze fire emissions.  Fire emissions are important for many purposes including creating forecasts of smoke impacts, analyzing biogeochemical cycles, and modeling climate change.

AirFire’s emissions inventories for wildland fire are detailed on our Emissions Inventory page.  These emissions inventories are typically created either through real-time efforts to predict smoke or through retrospective efforts to create more detailed emissions inventories for regulatory and historical analysis purposes.  A substantial effort was dedicated to create an improved 2014 wildland fire National Emissions Inventory.

AirFire has also examined fire emissions computations extensively through the Joint Fire Science Program’s Smoke and Emissions Modeling Intercomparison Project (SEMIP).

Fire Weather

AirFire has a long history of work on fire weather.  These include examination of fire behavior – weather relationships, modeling of fuel moisture, and the creation of new indices that indicate the potential for extreme fire behavior.

Brian Potter of AirFire is one of the leads on the published synthesis of extreme fire behavior:

  • 2011:  Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers.  Werth, Paul A.; Potter, Brian E.; Clements, Craig B.; Finney, Mark A.; Goodrick, Scott L.; Alexander, Martin E.; Cruz, Miguel G.; Forthofer, Jason A.; McAllister, Sara S., Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-854. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 144 p. Download PDF from TreeSearch 

Climate

AirFire conducts a variety of studies on climate including climate patterns, climate variability, and climate change.  These include:

  • Analysis of El Nino and La Nina phenomenology and global temperature and precipitation impact patterns
  • Development of climatologies of fire weather indices such as the Haines Index
  • Development of transport potential climatologies to mitigate the impact of Arctic Black Carbon
  • Development of future large fire potential to examine both future fire occurrence and future smoke impacts (the Fire Scenario Builder project)
  • Modeling future wildfire emissions and smoke impacts

Arctic Black Carbon

The AirFire team lead two projects examining the potential for deposition of black carbon in the Arctic.  These projects look at historic and current transport patterns that connect black carbon emissions source locations with the Arctic.

Field Work

AirFire conducts field campaigns to measure weather, fuel moisture, and smoke.  We maintain a cache of portable weather stations including fuel and duff moisture sensors, flux towers, particulate matter sensors (primarily for PM2.5), CO sensors, black carbon measuring aethalometers, and smoke plume photogrammetry equipment.  We also work with partners in the USFS F&AM and the EPA to supplement our equipment on large scale deployments.

Previously, we are participated in measurement campaigns at Joint Base Lewis McChord and Elgin Air Force Base.  Brian Potter of AirFire was the smoke lead for the Joint Fire Science Program RXCADRE field study.

Past studies have included:

  • Meteorological, flux tower, and smoke measurements for low-intensity smoke prescribed burns
  • Rapid response deployment of smoke monitors to wildfires in California, Montana, and Idaho.
  • Fuel moisture studies at Elgin Air Force base and at various sites in Alaska