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Title: Field measurements of trace gases emitted by prescribed fires in southeastern U.S. pine forests using an open-path FTIR system

We report trace-gas emission factors from three pine-understory prescribed fires in South Carolina, U.S. measured during the fall of 2011. The fires were an attempt to simulate high-intensity burns and the fuels included mature pine stands not frequently subjected to prescribed fire that were lit following a sustained period of drought. In this work we focus on the emission factor measurements made using a fixed open-path gas analyzer Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) system. We compare these emission factors with those measured using a roving, point sampling, land-based FTIR and an airborne FTIR that were deployed on the same fires. We also compare to emission factors measured by a similar open-path FTIR system deployed on savanna fires in Africa. The data suggest that the method in which the smoke is sampled can strongly influence the relative abundance of the emissions that are observed. The airborne FTIR probed the bulk of the emissions, which were lofted in the convection column and the downwind chemistry while the roving ground-based point sampling FTIR measured the contribution of individual residual smoldering combustion fuel elements scattered throughout the burn site. The open-path FTIR provided a fixed path-integrated sample of emissions produced directly upwind mixed with emissionsmore » that were redirected by wind gusts, or right after ignition and before the adjacent plume achieved significant vertical development. It typically probed two distinct combustion regimes, “flaming-like” (immediately after adjacent ignition) and “smoldering-like”, denoted “early” and “late”, respectively. The calculated emission factors from open-path measurements were closer to the airborne than to the point measurements, but this could vary depending on the calculation method or from fire to fire given the changing MCE and dynamics over the duration of a typical burn. The emission factors for species whose emissions are not highly fuel dependent (e.g. CH4 and CH3OH) from all three systems can be plotted versus modified combustion efficiency and fit to a single consistent trend suggesting that differences between the systems for these species may be mainly due to the unique mix of flaming and smoldering that each system sampled. For other more fuel dependent species, the different fuels sampled also likely contributed to platform differences in emission factors. The path-integrated sample of the ground-level smoke layer adjacent to the fire provided by the open-path measurements is important for estimating fire-line exposure to smoke for wildland fire personnel. We provide a table of estimated fire-line exposures for numerous known air toxics based on synthesizing results from several studies. Our data suggest that peak exposures are more likely to challenge permissible exposure limits for wildland fire personnel than shift-average exposures.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(1):199-215
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States