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Impacts of upwind wildfire emissions on CO, CO2, and PM2.5 concentrations in Salt Lake City, Utah

Posted date: May 01, 2015
Publication Year: 
2015
Authors: Mallia, D. V.; Lin, J. C.; Urbanski, Shawn P.; Ehleringer, J.; Nehrkorn, T.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 120: 147-166.

Abstract

Biomass burning is known to contribute large quantities of CO2, CO, and PM2.5 to the atmosphere. Biomass burning not only affects the area in the vicinity of fire but may also impact the air quality far downwind from the fire. The 2007 and 2012 western U.S. wildfire seasons were characterized by significant wildfire activity across much of the Intermountain West and California. In this study, we determined the locations of wildfire-derived emissions and their aggregate impacts on Salt Lake City, a major urban center downwind of the fires. To determine the influences of biomass burning emissions, we initiated an ensemble of stochastic back trajectories at the Salt Lake City receptor within the Stochastic Time-Inverted Lagrangian Transport (STILT) model, driven by wind fields from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The trajectories were combined with a new, high-resolution biomass burning emissions inventory—the Wildfire Emissions Inventory. Initial results showed that the WRF-STILT model was able to replicate many periods of enhanced wildfire activity observed in the measurements. Most of the contributions for the 2007 and 2012 wildfire seasons originated from fires located in Utah and central Idaho. The model results suggested that during intense episodes of upwind wildfires in 2007 and 2012, fires contributed as much as 250 ppb of CO during a 3 h period and 15 µg/m3 of PM2.5 averaged over 24 h at Salt Lake City. Wildfires had a much smaller impact on CO2 concentrations in Salt Lake City, with contributions rarely exceeding 2 ppm enhancements.

Citation

Mallia, D. V.; Lin, J. C.; Urbanski, S.; Ehleringer, J.; Nehrkorn, T. 2015. Impacts of upwind wildfire emissions on CO, CO2, and PM2.5 concentrations in Salt Lake City, Utah. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 120: 147-166.