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Wildfire plumes in the Western US are reaching greater heights and injecting more aerosols aloft as wildfire activity intensifies

Year of Publication
2022
Publication Type

By producing a frst-of-its-kind, decadal-scale wildfre plume rise climatology in the Western U.S. and Canada, we identify trends toward enhanced plume top heights, aerosol loading aloft, and nearsurface smoke injection throughout the American West. Positive and signifcant plume trends suggest a growing impact of Western US wildfres on air quality at the local to continental scales and support the notion that wildfres may have an increasing impact on regional climate. Overlap of identifed trends with regions of increasing wildfre emissions and burn severity suggests a link to climate driven trends toward enhanced wildfre activity. Further, time series of plume activity point to a possible acceleration of trends over recent years, such that the future impacts to air quality and regional climate may exceed those suggested by a linear ft to the multi-decadal data. These fndings have signifcant implications for human health and exacerbate concern for the climate–wildfre connection.

Authors
T.Y. Wilmot; D.V. Mallia; A.G. Hallar; J.C. Lin
Citation

Wilmot TY, Mallia DV, Hallar AG, Lin JC. Wildfire plumes in the Western US are reaching greater heights and injecting more aerosols aloft as wildfire activity intensifies. Scientific Reports. 2022 ;12(12400).

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