Transport of smoke from Canadian forest fires to the surface near Washington,...

Colarco, P. R., M. R. Schoeberl, B. Doddridge, L. T. Marufu, O. Torres, and J. Welton (2004), Transport of smoke from Canadian forest fires to the surface near Washington, D.C.: Injection height, entrainment, and optical properties, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D06203, doi:10.1029/2003JD004248.

Smoke and pollutants from Canadian forest fires are sometimes transported over the United States at low altitudes behind advancing cold fronts. An unusual event occurred in July 2002 in which smoke from fires in Quebec was observed by satellite, lidar, and aircraft to arrive over the Washington, D.C., area at high altitudes. This elevated smoke plume subsequently mixed to the surface as it was entrained into the turbulent planetary boundary layer and had adverse effects on the surface air quality over the region. Trajectory and three-dimensional model calculations confirmed the origin of the smoke, its transport at high altitudes, and the mechanism for bringing the pollutants to the surface. Additionally, the modeled smoke optical properties agreed well with aircraft and remote sensing observations provided the smoke particles were allowed to age by coagulation in the model. These results have important implications for the long-range transport of pollutants and their subsequent entrainment to the surface, as well as the evolving optical properties of smoke from boreal forest fires.

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