A comprehensive, open access book on smoke from wildland fires across the U.S. is now available. Wildland Fire Smoke in the United States: A Scientific Assessment synthesizes the physical, chemical, biological, social, and policy issues critical to mitigating the impacts of smoke from wildland fires.
Seventy researchers, land managers, and other experts co-authored the book. More than 20 USDA Forest Service scientists are co-authors, along with collaborators from federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, states, and universities.
Over its eight chapters, the book covers:
- The state of smoke science
- Fuels and consumption
- Fire behavior and heat release as source conditions for smoke modeling
- Smoke plume dynamics
- Smoke chemistry
- Social, human health, economic, and risk communication considerations, and
- Resource manager perspectives on the need for smoke science.
“Wildland fires are a major source of gases and aerosols, and a thorough understanding of fire emissions is essential for addressing the societal and climatic consequences of fire and smoke,” says Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, Southern Research Station Director and one of the book’s editors. “This knowledge is increasingly important, as a warmer climate is contributing to more fires and more smoke exposure.”
Southern Research Station scientists Scott Goodrick, Ben Hornsby (now with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), Yongqiang Liu, Louise Loudermilk, and Jeff Prestemon contributed much expertise to this volume. Their chapters focus on:
- Improved, 3D fuels descriptions that inform estimates of fuel consumption and emissions;
- Next-generation fire behavior and smoke dispersal models that put practical decision-making tools in the hands of managers; and
- The links between smoke, human health, and economic impacts, a topic that needs more study to reduce risk and improve future outcomes.
Current, credible science and on-the-ground expertise will guide the agency’s fuels reduction projects and prescribed fire treatments in its 10-year strategy for Confronting the Wildfire Crisis.
The book also identifies where more research is needed. Patel-Weynand adds, “This assessment provides a roadmap for future research: What are the gaps and challenges to improving fire and smoke management over the next decades?”