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BC CLEAR Projects 2015-2016 (funding start dates) > A new approach to modeling smoke plume rise for BC wildfires

A new approach to modeling smoke plume rise for BC wildfires

posted on 7:32 PM, July 6, 2016

Project leader: Dr. Roland Stull

Currently, wildfire smoke dispersion modeling in BC is performed using the BlueSky Modelling Framework, run daily at UBC during the forest-fire season. This research project aims to improve the accuracy of smoke dispersion predictions by incorporating a new plume rise module into the BlueSky modeling system.

This project will develop a new set of equations to estimate plume rise. Preliminary large eddy simulations (LES) suggest that buoyancy at the fire front creates a boundary-layer- scale circulation that draws relatively clean near-surface air ahead of the flames towards the plume – in the direction opposite to ambient wind. The result is that PM2.5 is injected into a deep smoke layer within the top 2/3 of the boundary layer, while the bottom 1/3 behaves more like a line of traditional plume rise with clean air inflow from both sides of the fire line. Project researchers will use a large, varied set of LES runs to parameterize the plume growth above a simulated fire line.

By numerically experimenting with different wind speeds, boundary-layer depths, and fire intensities, project researchers will have sufficient information to produce analytical equations that scale properly to different size fires and environmental conditions. Ultimately, the BlueSky model enhanced with the new plume rise algorithm can be used operationally to provide air quality managers and decision-makers in British Columbia with more accurate smoke dispersion predictions.

Read the final report.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in British Columbia.

Where We Work

We are grateful to live and work on the unceded ancestral territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

Strategic Priorities

At the Fraser Basin Council, our strategic priorities are to take action on climate change, support healthy watersheds and water resources, and build sustainable and resilient communities.

With our partners, we work on a range of collaborative, multi-sector initiatives, such as those focused on flood management, community wildfire planning, air quality improvement, energy-efficient buildings, green transportation (including the uptake of electric vehicles and expansion of charging infrastructure), watershed planning and youth-driven climate action projects.

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Plug in BC:


ReTooling for Climate Change:

FBC Youth:

Climate Action Toolkit: 

Salmon-Safe BC

Realizing UNDRIP Initiative

Contact Us

FBC staff work from our Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George offices, and from several other locations.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff or contact our administration office:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350