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The Inclusion of Biomass Burning in WRF-Chem: Impact of Wildfires on Weather Forecasts

Abstract

A plume rise algorithm for wildfires was included in WRF-Chem, and applied to look at the impact of intense wildfires during the 2004 Alaska wildfire season on weather simulations using model resolutions of 10 km and 2 km. Biomass burning emissions were estimated using a biomass burning emissions model. In addition, a 1-D, time-dependent cloud model was used online in WRF-Chem to estimate injection heights as well as the vertical distribution of the emission rates. It was shown that with the inclusion of the intense wildfires of the 2004 fire season in the model simulations, the interaction of the aerosols with the atmospheric radiation led to significant modifications of vertical profiles of temperature and moisture in cloud-free areas. On the other hand, when clouds were present, the high concentrations of fine aerosol (PM2.5) and the resulting large numbers of Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) had a strong impact on clouds and cloud microphysics, with decreased precipitation coverage and precipitation amounts during the first 12 h of the integration. During the afternoon, storms were of convective nature and appeared significantly stronger, probably as a result of both the interaction of aerosols with radiation (through an increase in CAPE) as well as the interaction with cloud microphysics.

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