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Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) logo

Building and testing the framework to integrate detailed chemical measurements and predictive biomass burning models

Biomass burning has significant impacts on the climate system, from local changes in ecosystem dynamics and the hydrological cycle to the production of emissions that alter the optical, radiative and chemical characteristics of the global atmosphere. To develop predictive models of fires, and their atmospheric impacts and interactions with the current and future climate system, emissions from fires must be better constrained and their chemical transformations better quantified. These needs are the focus of the NOAA-led field campaign, Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments Experiment (FIREX).

The proposed project, �??Building and testing the framework to integrate detailed chemical measurements and predictive biomass burning models�?�, will serve to link the FIREX goals to advance the understanding of biomass burning emissions and their transformations, and improve the prediction of smoke from fires, with NOAA�??s long-term climate goal to �??improve scientific understanding of changing climate system and its impacts�?� (from NOAA�??s Next Generation Strategic Plan). Specifically we will develop the model framework and associated tools that allow integration of detailed chemical measurements of emissions and their transformation products into chemical transport models used to simulate biomass burning and its air quality and climate impacts. Current model frameworks are insufficient to exploit the information that will come from the planned FIREX activities. Our ability to predict the impacts of fires on air quality and climate, even with a wealth of new data, will be severely limited without adequate model development. Thus capitalizing on the FIREX campaign, the NOAA AC4 Program- Fires in the Western US: Emissions and Chemical Transformations provides an ideal opportunity to pursue the model development necessary to fully transform model representation of biomass burning emissions and chemistry.

To address the FIREX Science questions, the following tasks will be completed:

A) Update the Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN) emissions model using specific inputs for North America and recent chemically-speciated Non-Methane Organic Compound (NMOC) measurements;

B) Create robust mapping schemes from fire emissions inventories to the surrogate compounds in major gas-phase chemical mechanisms considering reactivity, solubility and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation potential of the individual NMOCs (gasphase chemical mechanisms will be modified as necessary while maintaining computational efficiency);

C) Apply box models to test and evaluate the updated speciation profiles, mapping schemes, and chemical mechanisms and to develop parameterizations suitable for atmospheric models; and

D) Use the improved modeling tools in chemical transport models for measurement (FIREX)/model comparison and to evaluate the impacts of fires on North America, with a focus on the Western US.

The project investigators are uniquely and ideally qualified to make these contributions, with their combined expertise and experience in chemical characterization of biomass burning emissions, development of fire emissions models, and development and application of chemical transport models.

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