Project at a Glance

Title: Understanding and Mitigating Wildfire Risk in California

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Goldstein, Allen

Contractor: UC Berkeley

Contract Number: 19RD008

Research Program Area: Climate Change

Topic Areas: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Science

Research Summary:

California wildfires are becoming larger and more frequent and the 2018 fire season was record-breaking in terms of monetary damage, area burned, and human casualties. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone formed from fires are two of the deadliest components of fire smoke. Climate change has increased the area burned by wildfire in the Western U.S., particularly by drying forests and making them more susceptible to burning, leading to an increasing impact on local and regional air quality. Quantifying the chemical composition and properties of biomass burning emissions is needed to improve modeling of their impact on human health, visibility, and climate. This project will provide emission profiles from a representative set of controlled burns in a mixed conifer forest, and wildfires, in California. Measured emission factors (EFs) will be used in collaboration with CARB staff to improve the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM) estimates of short-lived climate pollutants and other air pollutants. Outcomes would include improved emissions factors from controlled burns of managed and previously unmanaged forest; and comparison to emission factors from wildfires, including recently measured and published values. The results of this research project along with its unique database will be a valuable resource for the community for identifying specific chemicals in air masses impacted by biomass burning plumes and understanding the dominant source materials burned, fire characteristics, atmospheric transformations, and health implications.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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