Articles | Volume 14, issue 3
Research article
04 Mar 2014
Research article |  | 04 Mar 2014

Evaluation of wildland fire smoke plume dynamics and aerosol load using UV scanning lidar and fire–atmosphere modelling during the Mediterranean Letia 2010 experiment

V. Leroy-Cancellieri, P. Augustin, J. B. Filippi, C. Mari, M. Fourmentin, F. Bosseur, F. Morandini, and H. Delbarre

Abstract. Vegetation fires emit large amount of gases and aerosols which are detrimental to human health. Smoke exposure near and downwind of fires depends on the fire propagation, the atmospheric circulations and the burnt vegetation. A better knowledge of the interaction between wildfire and atmosphere is a primary requirement to investigate fire smoke and particle transport. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the usefulness of an UV scanning lidar to characterise the fire smoke plume and consequently validate fire–atmosphere model simulations.

An instrumented burn was conducted in a Mediterranean area typical of ones frequently subject to wildfire with low dense shrubs. Using lidar measurements positioned near the experimental site, fire smoke plume was thoroughly characterised by its optical properties, edge and dynamics. These parameters were obtained by combining methods based on lidar inversion technique, wavelet edge detection and a backscatter barycentre technique. The smoke plume displacement was determined using a digital video camera coupled with the lidar.

The simulation was performed using a mesoscale atmospheric model in a large eddy simulation configuration (Meso-NH) coupled to a fire propagation physical model (ForeFire), taking into account the effect of wind, slope and fuel properties. A passive numerical scalar tracer was injected in the model at fire location to mimic the smoke plume. The simulated fire smoke plume width remained within the edge smoke plume obtained from lidar measurements. The maximum smoke injection derived from lidar backscatter coefficients and the simulated passive tracer was around 200 m. The vertical position of the simulated plume barycentre was systematically below the barycentre derived from the lidar backscatter coefficients due to the oversimplified properties of the passive tracer compared to real aerosol particles. Simulated speed and horizontal location of the plume compared well with the observations derived from the videography and lidar method, suggesting that fire convection and advection were correctly taken into account.

Final-revised paper