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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 1745-1761, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 06 Feb 2018

Research article | 06 Feb 2018

Connecting smoke plumes to sources using Hazard Mapping System (HMS) smoke and fire location data over North America

Steven J. Brey1, Mark Ruminski2, Samuel A. Atwood1, and Emily V. Fischer1 Steven J. Brey et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, 80523, USA
  • 2NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch, College Park, 20740, USA

Abstract. Fires represent an air quality challenge because they are large, dynamic and transient sources of particulate matter and ozone precursors. Transported smoke can deteriorate air quality over large regions. Fire severity and frequency are likely to increase in the future, exacerbating an existing problem. Using the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) Hazard Mapping System (HMS) smoke data for North America for the period 2007 to 2014, we examine a subset of fires that are confirmed to have produced sufficient smoke to warrant the initiation of a U.S. National Weather Service smoke forecast. We find that gridded HMS-analyzed fires are well correlated (r = 0.84) with emissions from the Global Fire Emissions Inventory Database 4s (GFED4s). We define a new metric, smoke hours, by linking observed smoke plumes to active fires using ensembles of forward trajectories. This work shows that the Southwest, Northwest, and Northwest Territories initiate the most air quality forecasts and produce more smoke than any other North American region by measure of the number of HYSPLIT points analyzed, the duration of those HYSPLIT points, and the total number of smoke hours produced. The average number of days with smoke plumes overhead is largest over the north-central United States. Only Alaska, the Northwest, the Southwest, and Southeast United States regions produce the majority of smoke plumes observed over their own borders. This work moves a new dataset from a daily operational setting to a research context, and it demonstrates how changes to the frequency or intensity of fires in the western United States could impact other regions.

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This paper presents the first regional summertime smoke transport climatology for North America using observed smoke plume and fire location data. We show that these data are well correlated with existing biomass burning emission inventories. We present the abundance of smoke over different regions of North America and estimate where the smoke comes from, the age of smoke, and how often the smoke influences ground-level air quality.
This paper presents the first regional summertime smoke transport climatology for North America...