The effect of smoke on pyrocumulonimbus: A satellite perspective

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 9:15 AM
B315 (GWCC)
Daniel T. Lindsey, NOAA/NESDIS, Fort Collins, CO; and M. D. Fromm

Wildfire-induced convective storms, or pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb), provide a unique natural environment in which to study the effects of aerosols on cloud microphysics. Intense surface heating from the large fires sometimes provide the thermodynamic environment to initiate convection which might not form otherwise. The resulting smoke from the fire is ingested into the storm and may significantly affect its microphysical evolution.

In this paper, we will present a few examples of pyroCb anvils having different evolutions than those from "normal" convection as a result of having significantly smaller particle sizes. These pyroCb anvils tend to persist longer than normal convective anvils, thus affecting the local net radiative forcing. In addition, pyroCbs often loft large amounts of smoke into the lower stratosphere where residence times might be comparable to those of volcanically injected particles. Both of these effects have important climatic implications. Finally, we will present work on the development of an automated pyroCb detection algorithm using visible and infrared satellite imagery.