Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Biomass burning (BB) and wildfires release huge quantities of particulates and trace gases into the atmosphere in amounts highly variable in space and time. Plume rise means these that under certain conditions these emissions can be injected into the atmosphere at heights far above the Earth surface, enhancing their long-range transport and altering their atmospheric chemistry, radiative budget, and air quality effects. Results from past project show that UK air quality can be signficantly affected by long-range transport of smoke from European and Russian wildires, and smoke from fires in Canada can be detected in air samples at DEFRA monitoring stations in e.g. Mace Head. Near real-time (NRT) atmospheric modelling and forecasting schemes aiming to realistically represent these aspects of the Earth system must include a high temporal resolution, non-retrospective source of BB emissions information - which generally comes from satellite Earth Obervation data. However, as discussed above, a fires smoke plumes buoyancy characteristics can strongly influence its atmospheric impact, and this is increasingly realised to be an important term to represent when modelling the long-range effects of wildfire smoke emissions. However, a lack of a priori information and, until recently, a directly-related EO observable, has meant that parameterisation of smoke plume injection height has received far less attention than has estimating the magnitude and variability of the smoke emissions.

This KE Project will exploit the findings from two successful NERC research projects to provide major improvements to the current (ad hoc) prescription of wildfire smoke plume injection height in the prototype GMES UK/European atmospheric monitoring and forecasting scheme (the 'GMES Atmospheric Core Service', which is based on the world-leading integrated forecast system (IFS) of ECMWF in the UK and which is being desiged to provide the public, policy makers and downstream organisations with access to state-of-the-art atmospheric chemistry monitoring and forecasting data. The GACS serves a broad community of users, for example those involved in environmental policy development and policing, those delivering downstream services related to the health community (warning of increased asthma incidence during air pollution episodes), and those aiming to reduce public exposure to air pollution.

We will work with Project Partners developing the GACS to exploit the research on plume height rise developed in NE/E016863/1 and the EO data processing procedures developed in NE/H00419X/1 to provide a much more realistic representation of smoke injection height in the GACS system; one that takes account of both fire and atmospheric characteristics such that the atmospheric transport of these emissions, including to the UK, can be better represented. The Project Partners are ECMWF, who lead GACS development in the UK and who operate the global model within which the plume rise scheme will be embedded, and Jülich Research Centre who are experts in the chemistry and transport of smoke emissions and who are a main partner in the GACS development. The KCL Environmental Research Group (KCL-ERG) are a 'down-stream' user of global atmospheric model output, funded by UK Government to provide regional air quality (AQ) monitoring and modelling, and this KE project will support them in starting to use the enhanced GACS outputs in their UK regional and London-wide AQ modelling schemes, in particular to take better take account of smoke-polluted air that is known to move into the UK from e.g. eastern Europe or western Russia, and which at present causes enhanced discrepancies between the AQ models and measurements (see DEFRA letter of support). All model outputs incorporating the new scheme will be made available freely through the GMES GACS system interface and for the UK region throught the online public interface


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Description Fire plume rise can be modelled based on fire radiative power observations, and this can contribute to improved smoke transport.
Exploitation Route More modelling systems for assessing fire impacts on air quality may use this model
Sectors Education,Energy

Description A plume rise model developed in part during this project is now embedded within the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Energy
Description Copernicus Atmosphere Service Contract 44
Amount € 1,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 07/2016 
End 07/2019
Description NERC Urgency
Amount £550,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2015 
End 05/2016
Description Copernicus Atmosphere Service 
Organisation European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting ECMWF
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Member of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service Development Team
Collaborator Contribution We are in a partnership of 4 institutions to develop the next stage of the global fire assimilation system (GFAS) that feeds data into the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service
Impact Developments that will become an operational part of the GFAS system, delivering fire emissions to the CAMS system that are updated globally every day.
Start Year 2016