Smoke particles can cool ground temperatures and suppress
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with resulting in huge on-the-ground disturbance, wildfires also have an impact in the atmosphere. With wildfires expected to increase in a warming world, U.S. Forest Service researchers recently set out to document what some of those effects might be with a synthesis of recent research, focusing on the effect of emissions from wildfires on long-term atmospheric conditions.
“While research has historically focused on fire-weather interactions, there is increasing attention paid to fire-climate interactions,” said Yongqiang Liu, lead author and team leader with the SRS Center for Forest Disturbance Science. “Weather, the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region, influences individual fires within a fire season. In contrast, when we talk about fire climate, we’re looking at the statistics of weather over a certain period. Fire climate sets atmospheric conditions for fire activity in longer time frames and larger geographic scales,” Liu said.
Key findings included:
- The radiative forcing of smoke particles can generate significant regional climate effects, leading to lower temperatures at the ground surface.
- Smoke particles mostly suppress cloud formation and precipitation. Fire events could lead to more droughts.
- Black carbon, essentially the fine particles of carbon that color smoke, plays different roles in affecting climate. In the middle and lower atmosphere, its presence could lead to a more stable atmosphere. Black carbon plays a special role in the snow-climate feedback loop, accelerating snow melting. (more…)