(270 Seminar) Satellite and Airborne Remote Sensing Contributions to Understanding the Impact of Fires on Air Quality and Climate

October 13, 2021 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Zoom Seminar/ MS 7124


Speaker: Olga Kalashnikova

Affiliation: Jet Propulsion Laboratory / Caltech


Biomass burning (BB) is a significant air pollution source, and BB emissions are composed of a complex mixture of gases and particles that may directly and indirectly affect both air quality and climate. As the size and frequency of landscape fires and their potential effects on climate and human populations grow, a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental coupling of weather, fuels, and BB emissions becomes essential. There is a critical need for high-resolution observational constraints from remote sensing measurements on end-to-end fire processes from available fuels and fuel consumption, to emissions and plume development in order to predict the dispersion and downwind effects of BB pollutants.

We will discuss remote sensing observations of fire energetics and smoke properties from satellite and NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude research aircraft, and links between in-situ smoke characterization and large-scale satellite observations. Using data from previous field campaigns including SEAC4RS and IMPACT-PM, we will demonstrate how hyperspectral, lidar, and multi-angle, spectropolarimetric remote sensing imagery can be used to constrain gaseous BB emissions and the particulate composition of smoke.

In addition, we will introduce the joint NASA/NOAA Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) Field Campaign that took place in the Western United States in the summer of 2019 to evaluate effects of North American fires on air-quality and climate. As part of this effort, the ER-2 flew 11 flights out of Palmdale, CA over targets in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, and Arizona. The remote sensing package on the ER-2 consisted of seven instruments that provided large-scale, high-resolution observations of effective fire temperature, plume rise, and characteristics of emitted gaseous and particulate pollutants. Flights were coordinated with NASA’s DC-8 and NOAA’s Twin Otter aircraft as well as ground stations and included multiple satellite underpasses. We will describe remote sensing data collected during the campaign and science results regarding smoke evolution during the Williams Flats Fire in Washington and the Sheridan Fire in Arizona in comparison with near-coincident satellite observations. This information can be used to evaluate chemical transport model performance and will help evaluate uncertainties in satellite retrievals.