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Forest Disturbance Processes

Synoptic Climatologies for Fire Weather and Smoke Applications

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

This study focuses on developing continental-scale (synoptic) climatologies of weather elements associated with wildland fires.  The meteorological conditions that can influence the evolution of a fire and the dispersion of fire emissions are forecasted using weather prediction models and are disseminated to the operational community as elements of fire weather forecasts.  However, climatological characteristics of weather conditions that affect fire weather and smoke dispersion are less well-known.  By employing readily accessible archives of observations and numerical model outputs in tandem with regional and global re-analysis tools, scientists can now produce global, continental, subcontinental, and regional  climatologies of relevant weather elements for both research and operational applications.

Our Research

[image:] Counts of air stagnation events from an analysis of over 200 surface weather stations from January 1981 to December 2010.Climatologies for the Continental United States (CONUS) are being developed for the weather associated with wildland fires and for air stagnation conditions.  The study will employ meteorological observations and one or more suitable re-analysis datasets (for example, the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)) to construct climatologies of the weather elements for each phenomenon that will help characterize the temporal and spatial variability of relevant meteorological conditions. 


Expected Outcomes

The results of this study will have applications to research, operational weather forecasting, and operational fire/smoke management and could also inform agency guidelines regarding air stagnation advisories (ASAs) issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).  The fire weather climatology will document the meteorological ingredients associated with wildland fires and contribute to the production of diagnostic tools that are applicable to operational fire weather forecasting, both in NWS and Geographic Area Coordination Center weather forecast offices. 

The results of the air stagnation climatology analysis will be communicated to the Smoke Committee of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group to help inform their decisions and recommendations regarding how fire and smoke management communities should respond to ASAs when planning a prescribed fire or responding to a wildfire scenario.  The tools developed from the analysis will be applicable by operational weather forecasters to determine how best to diagnose air stagnation from observations and model data and to support automated smoke dispersion forecasts available from web and data portals. 

Research Results

Srock, A. F.; Charney, J. J. 2014: Developing an Air Stagnation Climatology for the United States.  Thirty-First Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Portland, OR, 12-15 May, 2014.

Charney, J. J.; Srock, S. F. 2013: Whither the Wind? Developing an Air Stagnation Climatology for the United States. International Smoke Symposium, International Association of Wildland Fire, College Park, MD, 21-24 October, 2013.

Srock, A. F.; Charney, J. J. 2013: Where the Wind Doesn’t Blow: A Climatology of Air Stagnation Events in the United States.  Fourth Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, International Association of Wildland Fire, Raleigh, NC, 18-22 February, 2013.

Research Participants

  • Alan Srock, Atmospheric and Hydrologic Sciences, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
  • Lifeng Luo, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Sharon Zhong, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Joseph J. Charney, US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Lansing, MI
Last Modified: September 8, 2014