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Strada, S; Mari, C; Filippi, JB; Bosseur, F (2012). Wildfire and the atmosphere: Modelling the chemical and dynamic interactions at the regional scale. ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT, 51, 234-249.

Forest fires release significant amounts of trace gases and aerosols into the atmosphere. Depending on meteorological conditions, fire emissions can efficiently reduce air quality and visibility, even far away from emission sources. In 2005, an arson forest fire burned nearly 700 ha near Lancon-de-Provence, southeast France. This paper explores the impact of this Mediterranean fire on the atmospheric dynamics and chemistry downwind of the burning region. The fire smoke plume was observed by the MODIS-AQUA instrument several kilometres downwind of the burning area out of the Mediterranean coast. Signatures of the fire plume on air pollutants were measured at surface stations in southeastern France by the air quality network AtmoPACA. Ground-based measurements revealed unusually high concentrations of aerosols and a well marked depletion of ozone concentrations on the day of the fire. The Lancon-de-Provence fire propagation was successfully simulated by the semi-physical fire spread model ForeFire. ForeFire provided the burnt area at high temporal and spatial resolutions. The burnt areas were scaled to compute the fire heat and water vapour fluxes in the three-dimensional meso-scale non-hydrostatic meteorological model MesoNH. The simulated fire plume kept confined in the boundary layer with high values of turbulent kinetic energy. The plume was adverted several kilometres downwind of the ignition area by the Mistral winds in accordance with the MODIS and AtmoPACA observations. The vertical plume development was found to be more sensitive to the sensible heat flux than to the fire released moisture. The burnt area information is also used to compute emissions of a fire aerosol-like tracer and gaseous pollutants, using emission factors for Mediterranean vegetation. The coupled model simulated high concentrations of the fire aerosol-like tracer downwind of the burning zone at the right timing compared to ground-based measurements. A chemical reaction mechanism was coupled online to the MesoNH model to account for gaseous chemistry evolution in the fire plume. High levels of ozone precursors (NO, CO) were simulated in the smoke plume which led to the depletion of ozone levels above and downwind of the burning zone. This depletion of ozone was indeed observed at ground-based stations but with a higher impact than simulated. The difference may be explained by the simplified design of the model with no anthropogenic sources and no interaction of the smoke aerosols with the photolysis rates. Ozone production was modelled tens of kilometres downwind of the ignition zone out of the coast. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



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