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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-827
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-827
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  25 Aug 2020

25 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Wildfire smoke-plume rise: a simple energy balance parameterization

Nadya Moisseeva and Roland Stull Nadya Moisseeva and Roland Stull
  • Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

Abstract. The buoyant rise and the resultant vertical distribution of wildfire smoke in the atmosphere have a strong influence on downwind pollutant concentrations at the surface. The amount of smoke injected vs. height is a key input into chemical transport models and smoke modelling frameworks. Due to scarcity of model evaluation data as well as inherent complexity of wildfire plume dynamics, smoke injection height predictions have large uncertainties. In this work we use a coupled fire-atmosphere model WRF-SFIRE configured in large eddy simulation (LES) mode to develop a synthetic plume dataset. Using this numerical data, we demonstrate that crosswind integrated smoke injection height for a fire of arbitrary shape and intensity can be modelled with a simple energy balance. We introduce two forms of updraft velocity scales that exhibit a linear dimensionless relationship with the plume vertical penetration distance through daytime convective boundary layers. Lastly, we use LES and prescribed burn data to constrain and evaluate the model. Our results suggest that the proposed simple parameterization of mean plume rise as a function of vertical velocity scale offers reasonable accuracy (30 m errors) at little computational cost.

Nadya Moisseeva and Roland Stull

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Nadya Moisseeva and Roland Stull

Nadya Moisseeva and Roland Stull

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Short summary
Wildfire smoke-plume rise, which determines the emissions injection height, is widely recognized as an area of uncertainty within regional and global chemical transport models. In this work we propose a simple energy balance parameterization to predict the mean smoke equilibrium height for fires of arbitrary shape and intensity.
Wildfire smoke-plume rise, which determines the emissions injection height, is widely recognized...
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