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Comparing the height and area of wild and prescribed fire particle plumes in south-east Australia using weather radar


Price, OF and Purdam, PJ and Williamson, GJ and Bowman, DMJS, Comparing the height and area of wild and prescribed fire particle plumes in south-east Australia using weather radar, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 27, (8) pp. 525-537. ISSN 1049-8001 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 IAWF

DOI: doi:10.1071/WF17166


Smoke pollution from landscape fires is a major health issue. Prescribed burning aims to reduce the area and impact of wildfire, but itself produces smoke pollution. This raises the question as to whether the smoke production and transport from prescribed fires is substantially different compared to wildfires. We examined the maximum height, width and areal footprint of large-particle plumes from 97 wild and 126 prescribed fires in south-eastern Australia using the existing network of weather radars. Radar detects large particles in smoke (probably those >100 mm) and hence is an imperfect proxy for microfine (<2 mm) particles that are known to affect human health. Of the 223 landscape fires, 45% of plumes were detected, with the probability being >0.8 for large fires (>100 000 ha) regardless of type, closer than 50 km from the radar. Plume height was strongly influenced by fire area, the height of the planetary boundary layer and fire type. Plume heights differed between wildfire (range 101612 206 m, median 3260 m) and prescribed fires (range 7066397 m, median 1669 m), and prescribed fires were predicted to be 8001200 m lower than wildfires, controlling for other factors. For both wildfires and prescribed fires, the maximum plume footprint was always near the ground.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:particulates, landscape fire, 3D Rapic, injection height, rain radar, smoke plume, smoke pollution
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Forestry sciences
Research Field:Forestry fire management
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Williamson, GJ (Dr Grant Williamson)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:127287
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2018-07-20
Last Modified:2019-03-26

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