Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-485
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-485

  31 Aug 2021

31 Aug 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Duff burning from wildfires in a moist region: different impacts on PM2.5 and Ozone

Aoxing Zhang, Yongqiang Liu, Scott Goodrick, and Marcus Williams Aoxing Zhang et al.
  • Center for Forest Disturbance Science, US Forest Service, 320 Green St., Athens, 30602, United States

Abstract. Wildfires can significantly impact air quality and human health. However, little is known about how duff and peat burning contributes to these impacts. This study investigates the air quality impacts of duff consumption during the four largest wildfire events this century in southeastern United States, with a focus on the different impacts on fine particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in size (PM2.5) and ozone (O3). The emissions of duff burning were estimated based on a field measurement. The emissions from the burning of other fuels were obtained from the Fire INventory from NCAR (FINN). The air quality impacts were simulated using a 3-D regional air quality model. The results show the duff burning emitted PM2.5 comparable to the burning of the above-ground fuels. The simulated surface PM2.5 concentrations due to duff burning increased by 61.3 % locally over a region approximately 300 km within the fire site and by 21.3 % and 29.7 % in the remote metro Atlanta and Charlotte during the 2016 southern Appalachian fires, and by 131.9 % locally and by 17.7 % and 24.8 % in the remote metro Orlando and Miami during the 2007 Okefenokee fire. However, the simulated ozone impacts from the duff burning were negligible due to the small duff emission factors of ozone precursors such as NOx. This study suggests the need to improve the modeling of PM2.5 and the air quality, human health, and climate impacts of wildfires in moist ecosystems by including duff burning in global fire emission inventories.

Aoxing Zhang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-485', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Sep 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Yongqiang Liu, 04 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-485', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Sep 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Yongqiang Liu, 04 Nov 2021

Aoxing Zhang et al.

Aoxing Zhang et al.

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Short summary
Duff is decomposed forest fuels under ground. Duff burning often occurs at the smoldering phase with low intensity and long period, which has little impact on regional air quality. However, there is increasing evidence for duff burning during flaming phase. This study simulates the air quality impacts of duff burning during flaming phase in the southeastern US using a regional air quality model. The results indicate the important contributions of such burning to regional PM2.5 concentrations.
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