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Forest Disturbance Processes

Development of a Canopy Model Suitable for Predicting Smoke Dispersion From Low-Intensity Forest Fires

[image:] Arttwork for the Eastern Area Modeling ConsortiumResearch Issue

Prescribed fires are useful tools for forest ecology and management. Unlike major wildfires that are more intense, spread rapidly, and pose significant threats to resources, property and life, prescribed fires typically are low intensity, confined to small areas, and rarely produce significant damages. However, smoke from prescribed fires, which often occur in wildland-urban interface areas that are characterized by significant forest coverage, can linger in an area for a long time and affect air quality and the health of people in the local community. Smoke from low-intensity fires can also reduce visibility on nearby roads and highways and thus  increase the risk of transportation accidents. Improved tools that account for the effects of forest vegetation on smoke movement and quantitatively predict the local effects  of smoke are necessary in order to maximize the benefits of prescribed fires and balance the conflicting needs of ecological fire use and effective smoke management.

Our Research

[photo:] Smoke from a low-intensity prescribed fire in the New Jersey Pine Barrens affecting traffic on a highway adjacent to the prescribed fire burn unit. Photo by Warren Heilman, US Forest Service.Northern Research Station scientists in collaboration with researchers at Michigan State University are developing and evaluating a coupled meteorological and particle dispersion modeling system based on the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Integrated Lagrangian Transport (PILT) model that can more fully account for the effects of forest overstory vegetation on local smoke dispersion.  The research and product development objectives for this study include the following activities:

  • Designing and executing a set of numerical simulations aimed at testing the ARPS canopy model parameters.
  • Comparing the simulated mean and turbulent variables and their distributions within the canopy with the Canopy Horizontal Array Turbulence Study (CHATS) 30-m micrometeorological flux tower observations.
  • Adopting model parameters that explicitly account for the direct effect of canopy on moisture distribution within a forest canopy and implement the scheme into the ARPS canopy model.
  • Evaluating the new moisture scheme using CHATS moisture data.
  • Evaluating the performance of the ARPS canopy model using data from prescribed fire experiments in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (project JFSP 09-1-04-1), the Nature Conservancy’s North Carolina Calloway Forest/Sandhills Preserve (project 09-1-04-2), and the forests near the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Georgia.
  • Optimizing the ARPS canopy model parameters for the environments surrounding low-intensity forest fires.

Expected Outcomes

This research will improve the ability to model smoke transport and dispersion from low-intensity forest fires by furthering the understanding of fire-canopy-atmosphere interactions and improving canopy parameterizations.  It will help fulfill key research and product development objectives for the National Fire Plan’s Eastern Area Modeling Consortium (EAMC) and for the Core Fire Science and the Ecological and Environmental Fire Science portfolios of the National Wildland Fire and Fuels Research and Development Strategic Plan.

Research Results

Kiefer, M.; Zhong, S.; Heilman, W.; Charney, J.; Bian, X.; Shadbolt, R.  2011.  Development of a canopy atmospheric modeling system for use in simulating smoke dispersion from low-intensity fires. 2011 IUFRO Research Conference: Wind & Trees, 31 July 31 – 4 August 2011, Athens, Georgia.

Zhong, S., Lu, W.; Charney, J.; Kiefer, M.; Heilman, W.; Shadbolt, R.; Bian, X.  2011.  Modeling atmospheric transport and dispersion of smoke from wildland fires.  Special Symposium on Applications of Air Pollution Meteorology, 23-27 January 2011, Seattle, WA, American Meteorological Society. [Online]. Available: http://ams.confex.com/ams/91Annual/webprogram/Paper186473.html [September 20, 2011].

Kiefer, M. T.; Zhong, S.; Heilman, W.E.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.; Shadbolt, R. P.  2011.  Development of a fine scale smoke dispersion modeling system. Part I: Validation of the canopy model component.  9th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 17-20 October 2011, Palm Springs, CA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/9FIRE/webprogram/Paper192192.html [July 11, 2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Heilman, W. E. ; Zhong, S.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.; Shadbolt, R. P.; Hom, J. L .; Clark, K. L.; Skowronski, N.; Gallagher, M.; Patterson, M.  2011.  Development of a fine scale smoke dispersion modeling system. Part II: Case study of a prescribed burn in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  9th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 17-20 October 2011, Palm Springs, CA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available:  https://ams.confex.com/ams/9FIRE/webprogram/Paper192199.html [July 11, 2014].

Heilman, W. E.; Bian, X.; Hom, J. L.; Clark, K. L.; Skowronski, N. S.; Zhong, S.; Charney, J. J.; Gallagher, M. R.; Patterson, M.; Kiefer, M. T.; Shadbolt, R.  2011.  Observed fire-atmosphere interactions during a low-intensity prescribed fire in a forested environment.  9th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 17-21 October 2011, Palm Springs, CA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/9FIRE/webprogram/Paper192185.html [July 11,2014].

Bian, X; Katurji, M.; Zhong, S.; Heilman, W. E.; Charney, J. J..  2011.  A numerical study of high frequency velocity and temperature perturbations induced by a low-intensity prescribed fire.  9th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 17-21 October 2011, Palm Springs, CA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/9FIRE/webprogram/Paper192196.html [July 11, 2014].

Bian, X., Heilman, W. E.; Charney, J. J.; Hom, J. L.; Clark, K. L.; Skowronski, N. S.; Gallagher, M.; Patterson, M.; Zhong, S.; Kiefer, M. T.; Shadbolt, R. P.  2011.  Observations of atmospheric canopy layer turbulence generated by low-intensity prescribed fire.  9th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 17-21 October 2011, Palm Springs, CA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/9FIRE/webprogram/Paper192183.html [July 11, 2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Zhong, S.; Heilman, W. E.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.  2012.  Assessment of wind and temperature in the roughness sub-layer using ARPS-CANOPY.  20th Symposium on Boundary Layers and Turbulence, 9-13 July 2012, Boston, MA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/20BLT18AirSea/webprogram/Paper208843.html [July 11,2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Heilman, W. E.; Zhong, S.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.  2012.  On the sensitivity of wind and temperature in the PBL and roughness sub-layer to canopy and fire properties.  20th Symposium on Boundary Layers and Turbulence, 9-13 July 2012, Boston, MA, American Meteorological Society.  [Online]. Available: https://ams.confex.com/ams/20BLT18AirSea/webprogram/Paper208844.html [July 11, 2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Zhong, S.; Heilman, W. E.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.  2013.  Evaluation of an ARPS-based canopy flow modeling system for use in future operational smoke prediction efforts.  Journal of Geophysical Research 118:6175-6188. 

Kiefer, M. T.; Heilman, W. E.; Zhong, S.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.; Skowronski, N. S.; Hom, J. L.; Clark, K. L. ; Gallagher, M. R.; Patterson, M.  2013.  Simulating prescribed burn events in the New Jersey Pine Barrens using ARPS-CANOPY.  Proceedings of the 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, 18-22 February 2013, Raleigh, NC, International Association of Wildland Fire.  p. 94-95.  [Online]. Available: http://www.iawfonline.org/2013FuelsConference/Final%20Program%20Booklet.pdf [July 11, 2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Heilman, W. E.; Zhong, S.; Charney, J.J.; Bian, X.  2013.  An investigation of the sensitivity of wind and temperature in the lower atmosphere to canopy and fire properties.  2013.  Proceedings of the 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, 18-22 February 2013, Raleigh, NC, International Association of Wildland Fire.  p. 107.  [Online]. Available: http://www.iawfonline.org/2013FuelsConference/Final%20Program%20Booklet.pdf [July 11, 2014].

Heilman, W. E.; Bian, X.; Hom, J.L.; Clark, K.L.; Skowronski, N.S.; Gallagher, M.; Patterson, M.; Liu, Y.; Forbus, K.; Stegall, C.; Charney, J.J.; Zhong, S.; Kiefer, M.T.; Kremens, B.  2013.  Fire-atmosphere interactions during low-intensity prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  Proceedings of the 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, 18-22 February 2013, Raleigh, NC, International Association of Wildland Fire.  p. 93-94.  [Online]. Available: http://www.iawfonline.org/2013FuelsConference/Final%20Program%20Booklet.pdf [July 11, 2014].

Heilman, W. E.; Zhong, S.; Hom, J. L.; Charney, J. J.; Kiefer, M. T. ; Clark, K. L.; Skowronski, N.; Bohrer, G.; Lu, W.; Liu, Y.; Kremens, R.; Bian, X.; Gallagher, M.; Patterson, M.; Nikolic, J.; Chatziefstratiou, T.; Stegall, C.; Forbus, K.  2013.  Development of modeling tools for predicting smoke dispersion from low-intensity fires.  Final Report, U.S. Joint Fire Science Program, Project 09-1-04-1.  [Online]. Available: http://www.firescience.gov/projects/09-1-04-1/project/09-1-04-1_final_report.pdf [July 11, 2014].

Kiefer, M. T.; Heilman, W. E.; Zhong, S.; Charney, J. J.; Bian, X.; Skowronski, N. S.; Hom, J. L.; Clark, K. L. ; Patterson, M.; Gallagher, M. R.  2014.  Multiscale simulation of a prescribed fire event in the New Jersey Pine Barrens using ARPS-CANOPY.  Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 53:793-812.

Research Participants

  • Sharon Zhong, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Michael Kiefer, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Jovanka Nikolic, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Warren E. Heilman, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Lansing, MI
  • Joseph J. Charney, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Lansing, MI
  • Xindi Bian, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Lansing, MI
  • John L. Hom, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA
  • Kenneth L. Clark, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Silas Little Experimental Forest, NJ
  • Nicholas Skowronski, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Morgantown, WV
  • Michael Gallagher, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Silas Little Experimental Forest, NJ
  • Matthew Patterson, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA
Last Modified: August 6, 2014