Wildfire Emissions and Air Quality Impacts in the United States under Changing Climate

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA

Wildfires are likely to increase in the United Stated this century in response to the projected climate change. This study investigated and projected the future trends of U.S. wildfire emissions and the air quality impacts. The focus was large fires, which account for a small number of total fires but contribute substantially to the air quality impact. Present and future fire potential indices were calculated using dynamical downscaling of regional climate change. The probabilities of large fire occurrence and spreading were estimated using a comprehensive approach of data analysis, algorithm development, and numerical modeling. The future changes in fire emissions were calculated based on the projected changes in fire occurrence. Smoke transport and the air quality impacts were simulated using a smoke trajectory model. The results indicate increasing trends in large fires and the air quality impacts in many major U.S. urban regions under the changing climate.