Study of Fuel-Smoke Dynamics in a Prescribed Fire of Boreal Black Spruce Forest through Field-Deployable Micro Sensor Systems

Understanding the combustion dynamics of fuels, and the generation and propagation of smoke in a wildland fire, can inform short-range and long-range pollutant transport models, and help address and mitigate air quality concerns in communities. Smoldering smoke can cause health issues in nearby valley bottoms, and can create hazardous road conditions due to low-visibility. We studied near-field smoke dynamics in a prescribed fire of 3.4 hectares of land in a boreal black spruce forest in central Alberta. Smoke generated from the fire was monitored through a network of five field-deployable micro sensor systems. Sensors were placed within 500–1000 m of the fire area at various angles in downwind. Smoke generated from flaming and smoldering combustions showed distinct characteristics. The propagation rates of flaming and smoldering smoke, based on the fine particulate (PM2.5) component, were 0.8 and 0.2 m/s, respectively. The flaming smoke was characterized by sharp rise of PM2.5 in air with concentrations of up to 940 µg/m3, followed by an exponential decay with a half-life of ~10 min. Smoldering combustion related smoke contributed to PM2.5 concentrations above 1000 µg/m3 with slower decay half-life of ~18 min. PM2.5 emissions from the burn area during flaming and smoldering phases, integrated over the combustion duration of 2.5 h, were ~15 and ~16 kilograms, respectively, as estimated by our mass balance model.

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Field Value
Short Name of Publication Fuel-Smoke Dynamics in Prescribed Fire of Black Spruce Forest Field-Deployable Micro Sensor Systems
Deliverable Type Journal article
Program Catagory Air
Program Type Provincial
Author Huda, Q., Lyder D., Collins M., Schroeder, D., Thompson, D. K., Marshall, G., Leon, A. J. Hidalgo, K., and Hossain, M.
Periodical Title
Year of Publication 2020
Publishing Organization
Month of Publication July
Periodical Volumes
Page Range
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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