Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 4705-4760, 2007
www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/7/4705/2007/
doi:10.5194/acpd-7-4705-2007
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Wildfire particulate matter in Europe during summer 2003: meso-scale modeling of smoke emissions, transport and radiative effects
A. Hodzic1, S. Madronich1, B. Bohn2, S. Massie1, L. Menut3, and C. Wiedinmyer1
1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Atmospheric Chemistry Division, Boulder CO, USA
2Forschungszentrum Juelich, ICG Institut II: Troposphere, 52425 Juelich, Germany
3Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

Abstract. The present study investigates effects of wildfire emissions on air quality in Europe during an intense fire season that occurred in summer 2003. A meso-scale chemistry transport model CHIMERE is used, together with ground based and satellite aerosol optical measurements, to assess the dispersion of fire emissions and to quantify the associated radiative effects. The model has been improved to take into account the MODIS daily smoke emission inventory as well as the injection altitude of smoke particles. The simulated aerosol optical properties are inputted into a radiative transfer model to estimate (off-line) the effects of smoke particles on photolysis rates and atmospheric radiative forcing. We have found that wildfires generated comparable amounts of primary aerosol pollutants (220 kTons of PM2.5, fine particles) to anthropogenic sources during August 2003, and caused significant changes in aerosol optical properties not only close to the fire source regions, but also over a large part of Europe as a result of the long-range transport of smoke. Including these emissions into the model significantly improved its performance in simulating observed aerosol concentrations and optical properties. Quantitative comparison with MODIS and POLDER data during the major fire event (3–8 August) showed the ability of the model to reproduce high aerosol optical thickness (AOT) over Northern Europe caused by the advection of the smoke plume from the Portugal source region. Statistical analyses of model simulations showed a better agreement with observed AOT data at AERONET ground stations and suggest that wildfire emissions are responsible for a 30% enhancement in mean AOT values during the heat-wave episode. The implications for air quality over a large part of Europe are significant during this episode. First, directly, the modeled wildfire emissions caused an increase in average PM10 ground concentrations from 20 to 200%. The largest enhancement in PM10 concentrations stayed however confined within a 200 km area around the fire source locations and reached up to 40 μ g/m3. Second, indirectly, the presence of elevated smoke layers over Europe significantly altered atmospheric radiative properties: the model results imply a 10 to 30% decrease in photolysis rates and an increase in atmospheric radiative forcing of 10–35 Wm−2 during the period of strong fire influence throughout a large part of Europe. These results suggest that sporadic wildfire events may have significant effects on regional photochemistry and atmospheric stability, and need to be considered in current chemistry-transport models.

Citation: Hodzic, A., Madronich, S., Bohn, B., Massie, S., Menut, L., and Wiedinmyer, C.: Wildfire particulate matter in Europe during summer 2003: meso-scale modeling of smoke emissions, transport and radiative effects, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 4705-4760, doi:10.5194/acpd-7-4705-2007, 2007.
 
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