U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Final Report: JFSP Project Number 09-1-03-1


US government work.


This project, a collaboration between Colorado State University (CSU), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the University of Washington (UW), and the National Park Service (NPS), investigated the atmospheric aging of biomass burning plumes in order to examine changes in both primary particle emissions and the production of additional, secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Included in the project were chamber studies to directly study smoke aging as well as analyses of ambient samples to look for evidence of smoke aging and SOA formation in the ambient atmosphere. CMU conducted smog chamber studies to investigate the atmospheric evolution of fine particle and organic aerosol emissions in fire plumes. The experiments were conducted at the USDA/FS Fire Science Laboratory (FSL) in Missoula, MT as part of the FLAME-3 campaign organized by CSU and FSL; similar experiments were also conducted in the Air Quality Laboratory at CMU. The experiments investigated emissions from laboratory fires from fuels representing different regions in North America commonly impacted by prescribed burning and wildfires, including the Southeast (e.g., gallberry and pocosin), southern California (e.g., sagebrush and chamise) and forest regions of the western United States and Canada (e.g., ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, and black spruce). The results from the chamber experiments are described in six papers published in peer-reviewed archival literature on the atmospheric stability of the primary smoke marker levoglucosan (Hennigan et al., 2010), the secondary organic aerosol formation and primary organic aerosol emissions processing biomass burning plumes (Hennigan et al., 2011); the formation and growth of new particles in biomass burning plumes (Hennigan et al. 2012); the evolution of cloud condensation nuclei in biomass burning plumes (Engelhart et al. 2012); the evolution of organic aerosol optical properties in biomass burning plumes (Saleh et al. 2013); and the gas-particle partitioning and volatility distribution of primary organic aerosol emissions from fires (May et al. 2013).