The importance of plume rise on the concentrations and atmospheric impacts of biomass burning aerosol
Abstract. We quantified the effects of the plume rise of biomass burning aerosol and gases for the forest fires that occurred in Saskatchewan, Canada, in July 2010. For this purpose, simulations with different assumptions regarding the plume rise and the vertical distribution of the emissions were conducted. Based on comparisons with observations, applying a one-dimensional plume rise model to predict the injection layer in combination with a parametrization of the vertical distribution of the emissions outperforms approaches in which the plume heights are initially predefined. Approximately 30 % of the fires exceed the height of 2 km with a maximum height of 8.6 km. Using this plume rise model, comparisons with satellite images in the visible spectral range show a very good agreement between the simulated and observed spatial distributions of the biomass burning plume. The simulated aerosol optical depth (AOD) with data of an AERONET station is in good agreement with respect to the absolute values and the timing of the maximum. Comparison of the vertical distribution of the biomass burning aerosol with CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation) retrievals also showed the best agreement when the plume rise model was applied. We found that downwelling surface short-wave radiation below the forest fire plume is reduced by up to 50 % and that the 2 m temperature is decreased by up to 6 K. In addition, we simulated a strong change in atmospheric stability within the biomass burning plume.