Quantifying Long-Term Seasonal and Regional Impacts of North American Fire Activity on Continental Boundary Layer Aerosols and Cloud Condensation Nuclei

Timothy Logan, Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, Xiaojian Zheng, Yuan Wang, Peng Wu, Eleanor Marlow, James Maddux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An intimate knowledge of aerosol transport is essential in reducing the uncertainty of the impacts of aerosols on cloud development. Data sets from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement platform in the Southern Great Plains region (ARM-SGP) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), showed seasonal increases in aerosol loading and total carbon concentration during the spring and summer months (2008–2016) which was attributed to fire activity and smoke transport within North America. The monthly mean MERRA-2 surface carbonaceous aerosol mass concentration and ARM-SGP total carbon products were strongly correlated (R = 0.82, p < 0.01) along with a moderate correlation with the ARM-SGP cloud condensation nuclei (NCCN) product (0.5, p ~ 0.1). The monthly mean ARM-SGP total carbon and NCCN products were strongly correlated (0.7, p ~ 0.01). An additional product denoting fire number and coverage taken from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) showed a moderate correlation with the MERRA-2 carbonaceous product (0.45, p < 0.01) during the 1981–2016 warm season months (March–September). With respect to meteorological conditions, the correlation between the NIFC fire product and MERRA-2 850-hPa isobaric height anomalies was lower (0.26, p ~ 0.13) due to the variability in the frequency, intensity, and number of fires in North America. An observed increase in the isobaric height anomaly during the past decade may lead to frequent synoptic ridging and drier conditions with more fires, thereby potentially impacting cloud/precipitation processes and decreasing air quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020EA001113
JournalEarth and Space Science
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • aerosol chemistry
  • aerosol-cloud interactions
  • biomass burning
  • boundary layer aerosols
  • climatology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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