Regional real-time smoke prediction systems


O’Neill, Susan M., S.M., N.K. Larkin, J. Hoadley, G. Mills, J.K. Vaughan, R. Draxler, G. Rolph, M. Ruminski, S.A. Ferguson


Wildland Fires and Air Pollution, Developments in Environmental Science Series, Vol. 8, Elsevier, 499–534, 2009


Abstract - Several real-time smoke prediction systems have been developed worldwide to help land managers, farmers, and air quality regulators balance land management needs against smoke impacts. Profiled here are four systems that are currently operational for regional domains for North America and Australia, providing forecasts to a well-developed user community. The systems link fire activity data, fuels information, and consumption and emissions models, with weather forecasts and dispersion models to produce a prediction of smoke concentrations from prescribed fires, wildfires, or agricultural fires across a region. The USDA Forest Service’s BlueSky system is operational for regional domains across the United States and obtains prescribed burn information and wildfire information from databases compiled by various agencies along with satellite fire detections. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) smoke prediction system is initialized with satellite fire detections and is operational across North America. Washington State University’s ClearSky agricultural smoke prediction system is operational in the states of Idaho and Washington, and burn location information is input via a secure Web site by regulators in those states. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology smoke prediction system is operational for regional domains across Australia for wildfires and prescribed burning. Operational uses of these systems are emphasized as well as the approaches to evaluate their performance given the uncertainties associated with each system’s subcomponents. These real-time smoke prediction systems are providing a point of interagency understanding between land managers and air regulators from which to negotiate the conflicting needs of ecological fire use while minimizing air quality health impacts.


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