Forestry Hanover Seminar Series presents: Warren Heilman, USFS Northern Research Station

Date: February 24, 2015
Location: 225 Natural Resources

Time: 4 p.m. (Refreshments at 3:50 p.m.)

Forestry Hanover Seminar Series presents:

Local Air Quality During Low-Intensity Prescribed Fires in Forested Environments: Observations and Predictions

Presented by:

Warren Heilman
Research Meteorologist
US Forest Service
Northern Research Station, Lansing, MI


Abstract: Smoke generated from low-intensity prescribed fires used for fuels management can have an adverse impact on local air quality, raising human health and safety concerns especially in wildland-urban-interface areas.  Local smoke behavior is a complex process and is highly dependent on local ambient atmospheric conditions (e.g. wind speed and direction, stability) and fire-induced atmospheric circulations.  The presence of forest overstory vegetation can add further complexity to the local dispersion of smoke.  Planning and managing low-intensity prescribed fires in forested environments may be enhanced with meteorological and smoke modeling predictive systems that adequately account for the effects of forest overstory vegetation on fire-fuel-atmosphere interactions and the local transport of fire emissions.  Through a recently completed Interagency Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) study (Project 09-1-04-1) involving meteorological and air-quality monitoring and modeling of low-intensity prescribed fires, we now have additional insight into how forest overstory vegetation can affect local smoke dispersion.  A new version of the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) capable of simulating turbulent flows inside forest vegetation layers (ARPS-CANOPY) was developed as part of the study.  When coupled with an appropriate particle dispersion model, ARPS-CANOPY could potentially be used to predict local air-quality impacts of low-intensity prescribed fires in forested environments.  This presentation provides a summary of some of the key meteorological/air-quality observational and ARPS-CANOPY-based modeling results from JFSP Project 09-1-04-1 as well as follow-up efforts to test the feasibility of using ARPS-CANOPY, coupled with a dispersion model, as an operational tool for predicting local air-quality impacts of low-intensity fires.