U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 103, April 2010


US government work.


Researchers have explored the potential and limitations of using lidar, the remote sensing instrument, to provide information on smoke plume dynamics and optical properties. They used a scanning lidar in the smoke-polluted atmospheres near wildfires and prescribed fires to measure the height, dynamics, and three-dimensional dispersion of smoke plumes and the temporal and spatial variations of the optical properties of the smoke particulates. The team has developed and refi ned a measurement methodology and data processing techniques for analysis of data collected from smoky atmospheres by lidar and auxiliary instruments within the smoke-polluted area. They developed, validated, and improved lidar algorithms and software and, through a continuing project, are still working toward the ultimate goal of using lidar to estimate the optical and microphysical characteristics of particulates in smoke plumes. This research would further automate, speed, and improve the development of air quality forecast systems for areas downwind of wildfi res.