4.5 How Applied Climate Fits in with the Management of Wildfire Smoke Health Impacts

Thursday, 12 June 2014: 9:00 AM
Church Ranch (Denver Marriott Westminster)
Timothy J. Brown, DRI, Reno, NV; and N. Larkin and P. Lahm

In 2013 wildfire smoke impacted numerous communities in the U.S., especially in the West. California, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada had numerous days that PM2.5 exceeded regulatory standards and air quality was deemed Unhealthy to Hazardous. Expectations are that these larger fires and subsequent smoke events will continue and increase given future climate change. While weather drives daily fire activity, climate provides the underlying background. Wind is obviously a driver for fire, but also plays a critical role in smoke transport and dispersion. Atmospheric stability determines the extent that smoke will stay local or trapped in valleys. For many places in the U.S., smoke is a determining factor for planned burning. In order for wildland fire managers to help manage and respond to smoke, climate information provides valuable input in assessing smoke patterns. Major wildfires require complex responses to smoke. Impact factors include among others population areas, transportation, sensitive receptors such as schools and hospitals, and firefighter exposure. This presentation will discuss how applied climate is being utilized in the management of wildfire smoke health impacts. A new decision-support tool will be highlighted that provides both fire and air quality managers climate and impact information that can inform decisions and provide context and information for public health impact notices and forecasts.
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