A review of approaches to estimate wildfire plume injection height within large-scale atmospheric chemical transport models
Abstract. Landscape fires produce smoke containing a very wide variety of chemical species, both gases and aerosols. For larger, more intense fires that produce the greatest amounts of emissions per unit time, the smoke tends initially to be transported vertically or semi-vertically close by the source region, driven by the intense heat and convective energy released by the burning vegetation. The column of hot smoke rapidly entrains cooler ambient air, forming a rising plume within which the fire emissions are transported. The characteristics of this plume, and in particular the height to which it rises before releasing the majority of the smoke burden into the wider atmosphere, are important in terms of how the fire emissions are ultimately transported, since for example winds at different altitudes may be quite different. This difference in atmospheric transport then may also affect the longevity, chemical conversion, and fate of the plumes chemical constituents, with for example very high plume injection heights being associated with extreme long-range atmospheric transport. Here we review how such landscape-scale fire smoke plume injection heights are represented in larger-scale atmospheric transport models aiming to represent the impacts of wildfire emissions on component of the Earth system. In particular we detail (i) satellite Earth observation data sets capable of being used to remotely assess wildfire plume height distributions and (ii) the driving characteristics of the causal fires. We also discuss both the physical mechanisms and dynamics taking place in fire plumes and investigate the efficiency and limitations of currently available injection height parameterizations. Finally, we conclude by suggesting some future parameterization developments and ideas on Earth observation data selection that may be relevant to the instigation of enhanced methodologies aimed at injection height representation.