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Title: Particulate and Trace Gas Emissions from Prescribed Burns in Southeastern U.S. fuel types: Summary of a 5-year Project

Prescribed burning is an accepted practice to manage biomass in the United States and throughout the world. It is a particularly important practice in pine forests throughout the world, many of which have evolved in the presence of fire [1]. A recent survey [2] of prescribed fire use reported that 2.62 x 106 ha of forest land in the southeastern U.S. (defined by the National Association of State Foresters) burned in 2011 for silvicultural purposes such as hazardous fuel reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, and forest regeneration. Earlier surveys reported 0.9 to 1.7 x 106 ha of prescribed burning in the southern U.S. [3–5] using different survey techniques. While it is not possible to determine confidence intervals on these estimates, it is clear that the use of prescribed burning has increased since the first published estimate of 1 x 106 ha we were able to locate or the recent survey captured more information. Smoke is an important consequence of prescribed burning that must be managed, [6] and a great deal of research has been performed since the 1970s trying to characterize the composition, production, and transport of smoke from such fires. A recent review of the state of science behind estimationmore » of the contribution of wildland fire to greenhouse gases and black carbon in the U.S. identified several areas of research that must be performed [7]. In particular, two areas of knowledge that still need improvement are fuel characterization and smoke emissions, and the correlation(s) between the two. While many fuel types in the southeastern U.S. have been described for fire behavior and fire danger prediction, characterization of fuel bed components important for smoke production is more limited. Emissions characterization, both chemical and particulate, is needed to determine potential impacts of prescribed burning on nutrient cycling, planetary albedo, human health, and highway visibility [e.g. 8–10].« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Fire Safety Journal, 74:71-81
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States