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Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Instrumented towers set up within and in the vicinity of prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens provide critical meteorological and air quality data for validating smoke prediction tools. Nicholas Skowronski, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near and within prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The tools and observational data from this project help fire and forest managers in planning for prescribed burns to minimize adverse air-quality impacts in the vicinity of the burns.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Clark, KenSkowronski, Nicholas
Gallagher, MichaelHeilman, Warren E.
Charney, Joseph J. (Jay)Bian, Xindi (Randy)
Research Location : New Jersey Pine Barrens
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 320


Prescribed fires are an essential fuels management tool for enhancing ecosystem health and protecting people, homes, and property from wildfires. When prescribed fires are conducted near urban centers or areas where air pollution is already a problem, federal, state, or local air quality standards can be exceeded. Three large fire-fuel-atmosphere interaction (also known as Fireflux) experiments measured fuel loading and consumption, atmospheric turbulence, fluxes of energy, water vapor and CO2, and smoke transport at the landscape scale during operational prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Results from the experiments indicate that most of the heat and water vapor released from consumed fuel is indeed captured by flux measurements, and that particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations returned to below EPA standards rapidly after flames passed. Measurements of fuel consumption, fluxes, and atmospheric circulations during fires are essential for evaluating and improving predictive models used by fire and land managers for prescribed burn planning and smoke management.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Michigan State University
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • New Jersey Forest Fire Service
  • and Ohio State University.